Urban Granny

A Seasoned View of Urban Life



2 1/2 Seater

I often wonder if there is a method to riding the subway and securing a seat on a crowded train? You get on, eyeball whether a seat is available and check out if you can squeeze into it or not?

I was riding downtown on the 4 train around 3 pm on a Tuesday. The train was chock full.There sat a man, large but not overly so, taking up not only his seat but maneuvering his body to take over another 1½ seats. That’s not the surprising thing, you see that all the time.

What is surprising is how no one wanted to challenge this rude behavior. This is behavior that some people feel entitled to. Like at the Union Square movies, seeing the top box office hit on a Saturday night, putting your coat and shopping bag on the seat next to you and then daring some one to ask  you to move it.

As the train continues making its stops down from 86th street the car gets more and more crowded and the man does not move and no one asked him . The woman next to me eyed me and we raised our eyebrows in disbelief.

Finally at 14th street a middle-aged woman boarded the train, moves through the crowded aisle, looked straight at this hog of a man and asks him to move, very politely!

With that the entire row opposite them broke  into applause as she sat down and smiled.

Posted under Observations

The New York Times, Digital or Print?

The New York Times Reader, Front Page

The New York Times Reader, Front Page

One of my great joys is to read the New York Times especially with a good cup of coffee on a beautiful Sunday morning. The Times has been trying to update itself and become more relevant and accessible. Print is going out of fashion and the digital revolution has taken over. The latest entry from the ever-evolving NY Times is the online service The New York Times Reader. This is in addition to their many other digital offerings; various news alerts, blogs, newsletters, eBook subscriptions and daily niche updates via email. By far, the Reader is my favorite besides the actual PRINT version (because I love to hold the paper in my hands, leisurely in a chair). This is a free service to anyone who subscribes to the print edition or at a weekly fee comparative to a subscription service.

The NY Times web page accessed through your web browser is wonderful but the navigation and email capabilities are not comparable to the Reader.

The Reader is easy to download to your desktop or dock in the case of a Mac. It is clear and easy to use and not dependent on a web browser. It may not replace the old print version for many people but it could come close.

Travel Section Email

Travel Section Email

Front Page The New York Times Web Edition

The New York Times Web Edition, Front Page

The New York Times Digital Edition

The New York Times Digital Edition

Posted under Newspapers, Observations

Grandparents in Charge

Recently my daughter and her husband were on a week’s trip to The Netherlands and my husband and I were left in charge of their three children ages 5, 4, and 15 months.

During the week their regular routine kicked in so our dilemma was the weekend and what would be fun activities for all of us.

The plan for Saturday was to walk the High Line, exit at 20th street, lunch at Cookshop, proceed to the Hudson River walkway on West Street and then go to the children’s park at Jane Street and the Hudson River. The park has a wonderful sprinkler and water play area.A High Line View


Saturday proved to be a mixed bag of results. High Line was a wonderful experience but the children were too young to appreciate it. They were looking for more activity than they found. They thought it was cool to be above the ground and that they could see the old tracks but still no “kid things to do”. The High Line activity listing scheduled a children’s art project of making constructions out of recycled material but it was crowded and disorganized. A bit of a disappointment but it had sounded great when I planned it.

Coming off the High Line at 20th and having Cookshop directly in our sight was perfect. The food was great and totally child friendly.

The walk to Jane Street Park was long but doable. It is a great park with a wonderful walk along the Hudson. The park was not crowded and there were restroom facilities and a snack cart with ice cream nearby.   Perfect!

Sunday was a trip to Governor’s Island. This was a blind plan since we had no idea what to expect. I had read about the available children activities but was not sure about the facilities. We decided not to take bikes since the kids rode at very different levels and we had to deal with Max, the 15 month old.

The first ferry to Governors Island was at 10 o’clock and we made it!!  We were worried about the prediction for rain and we were trying to avoid the crowds. This proved to be the correct move. The children loved the ferry ride. The ride is short and easy with designated areas for bikers and families with strollers.

Governor’s Island is a work in progress. There are porta john facilities and snack trucks but I definitely suggest picnicking. There are tables all over the Island. Water Taxi Beach has food but for now it is french fries, hot dogs and hamburgers.

The Island can be a little daunting at first so use the website and the Island map when planning your trip.


Maxwell Marking

Maxwell Marking

We immediately headed to the Summer Art Colony run by the Children’s Museum of the Arts.  This was simply wonderful. The instructors were enthusiastic, helpful and patient. They had art projects set up for all age groups, even for little Max. There were art kits “to go” for those who wanted to explore other areas of the Island and sketch or color.

Max had colored balls in a dry pool to play with, easels with chalk, markers and some kind of plastic material to mold. Ben and Madeleine were busy making fans, drawing and painting. They also did a project using colored tissue pasted on wooden frames. The kids had a ball and were so proud of their art projects that they decided to give them as gifts to their parents when they returned.

Madeleine Creating

Madeleine Creating

Later, we explored more of the island and played a round of miniature golf. The children asked for a playground but unfortunately it is not finished.  We then walked to Water Taxi Beach for lunch. I really wished I had packed a picnic.

We headed back to the landing and saw big crowds coming off the ferry. Probably the numbers swelled because of a planned Judy Collins concert.

Our timing was great and though Governor’s Island is still a work in progress it is well worth a trip.

The weekend ended up to be a wonderful time for the grandchildren and their grandparents alike.

Benjamin Chalking

Benjamin Chalking

Sides note regarding the Children’s Museum of Arts, CMA is a fabulous organization that runs several types of Art Colonies, art classes for all ages, some of which are affordable drop off classes, a summer camp and art exhibits. Go to their web site for a full list of activities.

Posted under Children, Recreation

Shop Local and Feel Good

On my last trip to Amsterdam (I go quite often for business) I bought two of my grandchildren, Madeleine 5, and Benjamin 4, harmonicas. No real reason for this other than they appealed to me and I thought that they were colorful and the kids love to make music.

"The" Harmonica

"The" Harmonica

Several days ago I was getting ready to leave for Florida to  visit my 82-year-old mother when Madeleine brought me her pink wooden harmonica and told me it was broken. She said that I could fix anything and would I take it to Florida and try to fix it. I stuck the harmonica into my bag and knew that it would become a mission in Florida with my Mother to have it fixed.

My Mom would love this chore but I dreaded going to a cavernous Home Depot, big box type store, with short-handed staff.  My mother remembered that there was a small Ace Hardware close by her home in Delray Beach.  I was a bit embarrassed to go in and ask for something as small and insignificant as a screw. It’s a 30-cent item.

I asked the lady at the register about the smallest screw they carried and she proceeded to page Josh.

Josh turned out to be the highlight of my day. He was about 35 and just delightful. I told him the story about my granddaughter thinking I could fix anything. After suggesting I also buy Kazoos for them one day, he painstakingly tried several screws until he found the one that fit. He changed all four for me. Josh was kind and patient and refused to charge me. As I was leaving with Madeleine’s fixed harmonica he leaned against the counter and with wistful eyes told me a story.

He had an 87-year-old grandmother. Every week in her final months, sick with leukemia, he would take her for a drive and something to eat. At the time she was living with his aunt who watched over her mother’s diet very carefully. On this particular ride Josh coaxed her into telling him what she really wanted to eat. She had hemmed and hawed, until finally she told him a hot dog. Coincidently they had just passed a roadside diner advertising hot dogs and hamburgers so he turned around and they made their way to the diner.

He and his grandmother sat at the counter and each had a hot dog and root beer. He said he had not seen her so happy in years.

I saw such love in Josh’s eyes and it was clear to me why he helped out another grandmother make a grandchild happy.

Not only do I believe in shopping in small locally owned stores but I know that a poignant story about grandparents and grandchildren can touch you at any time.

Ace Hardware Picture 1

50 SE 6th Avenue

Delray Beach, FL 33483

Phone: 561-278-1144

Posted under Observations, Shop

It takes a village to raise a grandchild…or does it take a Grandparent…

Max, 15 Months Old

Max, 15 Months Old

So I get a call yesterday from my working daughter.  The youngest of her three children needs to see an urologist immediately because of a possible hernia. Of course, as any grandmother would do, I flew into action finding the “right” doctor and securing an appointment at 6:30 that evening.

I texted my daughter the information about the appointment.  This is the usual way of communicating these days. The text back was, could I take him to the appointment?  She would meet me there from work. Of course! I am a grandmother.

We live downtown and the doctor is at 98th street.   It was rush hour, wouldn’t have it any other way.

So off I went to pick him up, making sure that he had a bag packed with cheerios, water and a diaper.  I rehearsed opening up the stroller and closing it. I was not sure my daughter knew how to do it?

I did splurge and took a cab costing me $25.   I just couldn’t see myself negotiating Max, the stroller and two bags on the number 4 train, changing at 96th to the number 6 and walking to 98th and Fifth.  It was well worth the money, the FDR cooperated and traffic was not too horrendous.

Met my daughter on time and Max was wonderful during the wait and appointment. And yes he would need the surgery.

My journey began at 5:15 and we were finally back at their apartment by 8pm. Kissed them both and headed back home.

I got back to my apartment and finished preparing dinner. My husband is terrific at putting everything out and setting the table. Eating home is a luxury we thoroughly enjoy so no matter how late it was  I was determined to eat in.

I couldn’t help but think that it takes a grandparent to raise a child.

Last night listening to the news I heard that in the US 40% of all grandparents participate in their grandchildren/s childcare. Hmm, I can believe it. It takes a Grandparent to raise a grandchild these days.

Posted under Children, Observations