Manhattan Musings: My Inaugural Blog
WELCOME! This is the inaugural blog of Manhattan Musings. I have always wanted to write about the City that I love …… but, you know, this could be about your city ….. wherever you live. We share seeing all kinds of people doing strange things …… sites changing …… products you love disappearing from production and store shelves …… too many people/too much traffic.
For me, though, it all takes place in and around Manhattan. Again, “Welcome!”, and I hope that you will read with me for a long time. As my April 1st birthday approaches, what a wonderful time to inaugurate Manhattan Musings.
Note: There will be a health tip at the end of each Manhattan Musings. ‘What’s Up, Doc’ is from my background in health and from the international health newsletter (“Outreach”) which I founded, wrote, and edited when I first graduated from New York University and worked for the fifth largest medical center in the metropolitan area.
There are also a few laughs for you. Do see PERSONAL PATTER (you will laugh at how my April 1st birth turned out since I was expected to be a boy!) and SHORT SHRIFT for some good laughs.
THREE QUEENS IN NEW YORK HARBOR ….. MANHATTAN MUSINGS
The accident in January of the Costa Concordia running aground and keeling over brought to mind some amazing Manhattan memories ….. but these are wondrous ones from a unique Manhattan night on Sunday, January 13, 2008, when three Cunard ships – the Queen Mary 2, the new Queen Victoria, and the Queen Elizabeth 2 – joined in a majestic parade in the waters off lower Manhattan past the Statue of Liberty. [I will refer back to the Costa Concordia later]
This was the only time that the three Queen ships ever met, and I was there.
The Queen Victoria was docked uptown at the newly renovated Pier 88 on the Hudson River, and the QE2 was docked just a few blocks north at Pier 92.
I have much business in Central and Eastern Europe representing major American companies in infrastructure projects. In Bucharest, Romania, I reside in the stunning, old-world Athenee Palace. One of my waiters (Alexander) – in an effort to improve his life – managed to secure a position with Cunard Lines on the Queen Victoria. He emailed me in early December that he would be in New York in several weeks and invited me (with the Captain’s permission) to be his guest for the day on the Queen Victoria. I would have lunch and see this stunning ship. I was delighted, of course.
The day was exquisite ……. very cold but sunny. I was asked to be at the dock at 10AM, but there ensued a long wait due to some security difficulties. I got to talking with a gentleman who was a maritime chaplain. He would board all ships that came in and bring gifts to the working staff. He had clearance and was nice enough to take my name and agree to find Alexander who, if he came out to get me, would be able to give me early clearance. The chaplain succeeded, Alexander arrived, and I went through security and boarded.
The tour was marvelous and the staterooms superb. The diningroom left a lot to be desired for a luxury ship. There was no loose leaf tea; just bags of an inferior brand. The food and cakes were also not especially good. I certainly was surprised. I was even more confounded to learn that there was a woman who lived on the ship rather than bother with an apartment after her husband died. She just travelled the world all year round.
The Captain was so welcoming. In fact, he had on board the Captain of the QE2, and we all enjoyed a great conversation about this momentous day and being apart of history.
At 4:30 in the afternoon, I departed. I had a car service pick me up due to the difficulty of getting a taxi at that location in the extreme cold. He whisked me south on the West Side Drive – which runs parallel to the Hudson River – all the way to the bottom and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The beautiful Ritz-Carlton is at the tip of Manhattan and faces the Statue of Liberty. Its diningroom is on the side of the hotel (the southwest side) which faces Battery Park, the water, and the Statue.
Even though I had a dinner reservation, I was frantic that there would be a major crowd wanting to witness the sailing at 7:30PM. Amazingly, there was not a crowd (they came later and were out in the park while, in the hotel, we had a cheerful but charming dinner crowd), and my table was set at the exact window looking through the bare trees in the Park and straight at the Statue of Liberty.
The sun had set by now, and I was enjoying a superb and leisurely dinner with delicious Australian wine (a nice shiraz) when Alexander called my mobile and let me know that they would soon depart. This was at 7:30PM.
The Queen Mary 2 was not docked on the Hudson River. It was docked southeast of the tip of Manhattan in Brooklyn, and in order to facilitate this majestic parade of three Queens, the Queen Mary had to sail into New York Harbor and take her place near the Statue of Liberty while the Queen Victoria with lights ablaze and QE2 sailed out of Manhattan and into line behind the QM2 as fireworks flew and the fire boats streamed water in the air.
Now to tie this up with my mentioning the Costa Concordia earlier: As I was at my table awaiting ANYthing now that it was dark and getting later than originally scheduled, my eyes nearly popped as I and other people gasped (it really made one’s stomach turn): Through those bare trees of Battery Park there suddenly loomed the gargantuan – I mean staggeringly immense – Queen Mary as it approached from Brooklyn. It was so huge that, from the hotel diningroom windows, one could not see the sky. The ship went up, up, up …… It seemed to be at the edge of the shore (which, of course, it was not …. it was out in the water), and every stateroom light was lit, and people were waving from balconies as this colossus sailed past my very eyes.
If you remember the photographs of the Costa Concordia lying on its side facing the shore of the small Italian village where it ran aground, the first thought is: How could such a huge ship be sailing SO close to shore that when it keeled over it looked – in photographs – to be at the lip of that town? Well, I knew how! At that moment I remembered gulping as the Queen Mary eclipsed the view of water and sky, …. making me think: You will never get me on a ship that big!! Had that ship gone down right there, it, too, would have been at the lip of our shore. Remember, the Queen Mary – when it was built – was the longest, widest, tallest, and largest ship in the world. This was the colossus that sailed that Sunday, and, remembering that, I could only think of the terror of the passengers on the Concordia as it listed. Photographs do not do justice to seeing something so big floating on water.
It was all too brief. The Queen Victoria and the QE2 had sailed from England and crossed the Atlantic in tandem, arriving pre-dawn that Sunday morning for just one day in Manhattan. The Coast Guard limited all marine traffic in the area to preserve security.
To repeat the happy ending of that Sunday evening of January 13, 2008, the three Queens sailed through the waters of New York Harbor by the Statue of Liberty. Fireboats sounded their horns and streamed water into the air. Fireworks lit the sky. Police helicopters were overhead, and dinner cruise boats and private yachts were at a distance (as allowed by the Coast Guard). History was made as the Queen Victoria made its inaugural visit to Manhattan while the Queen Elizabeth 2 would be decommissioned in the autumn of 2008. The Queen Mary 2 led the Queen Victoria and the Queen Elizabeth 2 as they set sail under a blaze of fireworks while Cunard Line executives and friends had a vibrant party in the Ritz-Carlton on an upper floor with views of the majestic sailing.
Truly, that was quite a Sunday in New York!
‘WHAT’S UP, DOC’
As Precious As Wealth Is Your Health ……… Here is your tip today:
One is always looking for ways to relax the body. Giving the feet a rest can do wonders for the whole body. You can do this anywhere: at home, the office, at a movie, in the car ….
Turn/twist your ankles and feet so the outside of each foot is on the ground and the soles of your feet face each other. You can also do one foot at a time: outer side of foot on the ground and sole facing other foot (which is patiently waiting for its turn). Or: you can cross one ankle over the other ankle, again placing the outer sides of the feet on the floor or carpet, which naturally allows the soles of both feet to face outward.
This is extremely comforting to one’s feet, and this good feeling radiates up through the body.
Note: A brilliant massage therapist in Rotorua, New Zealand once told me that massaging – or even resting – the outer side of your heels and mid-foot area is critical to good back health. Thus, whenever my feet are under my desk during a long business day, I slip off my pumps and gently cross my ankles and turn my soles outward, and the relaxed feeling is a pleasure. I also do this when I am a passenger during a long car drive or on an airplane. There is joy in knowing that something so simple can offer so much.
SHORT SHRIFT (at the end of each blog, I will offer a laugh which, aside from a great inheritance, is terrific for your well-being)
Life After Death
Some time back, they said that Iran was pointing missiles toward the U.S. and that they would probably hit New York or Washington, D.C. What was my first thought?: Carole, you may as well use up all your favorite DISCONTINUED lipstick colors that you have been saving and using so sparingly! You cannot take them with you!
In this opening blog, some folks said that they would like to know more about me. So, I thought to start at the beginning – as we near my April 1st birthday – and give a bit more with each succeeding blog.
How Carole Got Her Name
I have always used ‘Carole Lynn’. In the States, most people wind up calling me Carole; but overseas, they like Carole Lynn (or Caroline). My mother is Caroline, and my Dad named me after Mom. I was supposed to be a boy, and Robert Alexander (after my mother’s father) was the name waiting for me. I was due the 1st of March. I never arrived until April 1st.
My grandparents had taken my parents out to dinner in Manhattan on March 31st and, driving them home, my grandfather hit every bump in the road. When they got to my parents’ apartment building, my grandfather said: “Now don’t call me in the middle of the night with any of this ‘April Fool’ stuff!!” My parents went upstairs to undress, read the newspapers, and relax. My Dad had a bit of a cold, and my mother rubbed his chest with Vicks and made him a nice glass of tea laced with whiskey. Suddenly she said: “Uh-oh! Billy …. It’s time.” And off they went to Doctor’s Hospital on the Upper East Side of Manhattan across from Gracie Mansion where the Mayor resides.
I was born at 1:20 in the afternoon, and Dad and grandparents were all assembled. Grandpa’s name was Coleman, and he was called Collie. When the doctor brought out a girl, grandpa said: “A girl?? A girl?! What happened to our boy?” Without missing a beat, my grandmother smacked him in the arm and said: “YOU, Collie!! YOU and your crazy driving last night!! You knocked the penis off Robert!”
I have heard that story my whole life, loved it, and always give people a great laugh when they ask me about my name and my April 1st//April Fool’s Day birthday.
SEE YOU SOON! DO KEEP WATCHING AND READING WITH ME EACH WEEK……