Urban Granny

A Seasoned View of Urban Life

Archive for the ‘Observations’ Category



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

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

Mr. Mayor your J train is disgusting

 A few days ago I had the occasion to take my four-year-old grandson, Benjamin Henry, on the J train. I know that New York City is not responsible for the woes of the MTA.  However, one has to ask, doesn’t the Mayor have some kind of civic pride when it comes to the subway system and the stations that are part of this great city, a city he governs?  Especially when it is the City Hall station.

Benjamin and I descended down into the J station under City Hall.  The condition of this station was unspeakable. Ben asked me very quietly, as I felt his grip on my hand grow tighter, who is in charge of the trains? MTA is a concept too difficult for a four year old to grasp so I said the Mayor. He knows his name is Bloomberg, and he began to ask all sorts of questions; what is his first name, is he married, does he have a mother and does he have children? I answered him and he sat quietly as we waited for the train.  Then he said to me that he wanted to write the mayor. I told him we would write a letter together when we got back home later that evening.

I knew he was upset about the station and perhaps the letter would help?

Here is the letter he dictated to me that evening.

Dear Mayor Michael Bloomberg,

I was going with my grandma to the lower eastside to have lunch at Katz’s as a treat and to meet my uncle. I live near City Hall and we walked to the train. It was the J.  There was garbage everywhere and it smelled gross.  I was afraid to walk because there was even throw up on the floor. It was very gross and disgusting.  How can you let the station so close to your work be so terrible? What can we do to stop the people from throwing garbage? It is bad for the environment and the dirt is not healthy for us kids.

The train did not come for a very long time and we hated being down there so grandma took me back up the stairs and we had to find a taxi. We got to lunch late but it was fun to be there.

I am almost four and I have an older sister and a baby brother.

Can you write me back?  Soon. I am Benjamin ——– and I live at —–.




Ben's Letter to Mayor Bloomberg

Ben's Letter to Mayor Bloomberg



As they say, out of the mouths of babes. All Ben wanted to know after that if the mayor was sad without a wife, I told him I didn’t think so.






Posted under Children, Observations