Tuesday, December 24, 2013

#517 - Seasons Greetings from "Letter from NYC"

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Letter from NYC team!
See you again in 2014!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

#515 - How to entertain a 2 year old in Italy

Basically by spoiling them with lots of pizza, pastries, gelato, cappuccinos, carousels, playgrounds. Along with some exploring, this may allow some stroller time for sightseeing

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

#514 - Guess who's two and a half today!!!

He is now 3ft (92cm) tall and weighs almost 30 lbs (13.1 kg). Xavier's preschool report, Fall semester 2013: It's hard to believe that Xavier had any trouble with separation at the beginning of the semester--it's a piece of cake for him now! Very inquisitive and thoughtful, he is an eager participant in classroom discussions and arrives at school with a smile. Xavier loves to build, paint, play with dinosaurs and animals, read, and participate in sensory and science activities. He is working on sharing, although he has made improvement in this area since September. I hope to see him continue growing as a verbal problem-solver in the new year by continuing to tell friends: "I'm not done yet" or asking: "Can I have that, please?". Xavier does well during transitions when he is given a specific job (like, "please pick up all the books and put them on the shelf") to help him to stay on task. It's a pleasure to have Xavier in PAL and I look forward to seeing him on his return from Australia this winter!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

#513 - A 4th snow day and it isn't even officially winter yet

More cold, snowy weather today. And the winter solstice is not for another few days. After the last 2 winters had very little snow, this has been much more like 2010. However it is predicted to warm up, to around 15 deg by the weekend, and no more snow on the horizon. Here are some scenes from around MSKCC and Central Park today.
Meanwhile, "About one-third of Australia is expected to be hit by a heatwave over Christmas, with temperatures likely to reach 40 degrees Celsius or more. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says Western Australia has been experiencing a heatwave and hot air is now starting to be dragged east and south-easterly across the country.From Friday temperatures are likely to be over 40 degrees in parts of South Australia and western Victoria, before the warm weather moves into New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory.The BOM's assistant director of weather services, Alasdair Hainsworth, says the heatwave could last for aobut a week." BRING IT ON!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

#512 - Benvenuti a Vicenza !

While in Italy last month, we (+ Jenny & Steven) also visited Vicenza on a day trip from Verona. A delightful, small city between Milan and Venice, few places are stamped by the genius of a single person as is Vicenza. And that one person was "Palladio", a.k.a. Andrea di Pietro della Gondola, the greatest architect of the Renaissance. A native of Padua, he came to Vicenza in 1524 because the local Venetian aristocracy wanted splendid new buildings to celebrate the recovery from the devastation of the long war with the Scaligers of Verona, whom they defeated. Palladio's trademark was colonnades and his style was adopted by architects in England and America in 16th & 17th centuries. So if these buildings look like ones in London or Boston or New York, remember this is where it all began
. we had lunch at a salumeria at the end of the Piazza. It looked good and was busy so we sat outside. But the service was terrible and then the sun went off it after a while making it unpleasantly cold, and memorable - for the wrong reasons

Saturday, December 14, 2013

#511 - more snow

Snowed all day again today in NYC, heavy at times, but very dry/powdery - obviously not much water content - and probably only about 1-2 cm accumulation. But enough to have fun with. Hard to believe in two weeks we'll be playing in sand instead of snow, and 30 deg C not 30 deg F.
The backhoe is also excellent for clearing snow! What a versatile machine!

Monday, December 9, 2013

#510 - first snow accumulation for the season

Snow, an icy mix and travel problems closed out the weekend in New York City. While a large amount of snow was not expected, the city received its first inch of snow of the season. It was fun for Xavi, who has been learning about winter and snow at preschool and seeing about in the Christmas window displays and on Peppa Pig. There was snow on the ground for a few hours in the evening on our way home from pizza (our regular Sunday night dinner outing to Numero 28 on 1st Ave & 74th) and on the christmas trees being sold on the footpath.
Parts of the city saw up to 2 inches of snow. The heaviest snow along the I-95 corridor impacted the Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia area this Sunday, leading to accidents and nightmares for airline passengers. Warmer air moved in during the storm Sunday night and Monday, causing a changeover to a wintry mix, then rain from the coast to inland areas, and this morning at thime of writing it was raining, +1 C but feels like -4C with the wind. Makes it a nightmare for motorists who must use caution as some slippery spots develop, especially on the bridges and overpasses.
As usual, the areas north and west of the city will have the longest duration of snow and ice, as well as more general slippery road conditions. More headaches await airline passengers through Monday due to snow and wintry mix at first, then from rain and low ceilings later.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

#509 - The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a large Christmas tree placed annually in Rockefeller Center in mid-town Manhattan in New York City. The tree is erected and lit in late November or early December. In recent years, the lighting has been broadcast live nationwide on NBC's Christmas in Rockefeller Center show and scheduled for the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. The tree, usually a Norway spruce 69 to 100 feet (21 to 30 m) tall, has been put up every year since 1933. The tallest Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center was a 100 feet (30 m) spruce erected on November 11, 1999 that was being cared for by Cathy and Jim Thomson. In 2013, the Christmas Tree is a 76 ft (25m) Norway Spruce from Sheldon, Connecticut and the Lighting took place last Wednesday (December 4th).
Many Rockefeller trees were given to Rockefeller Center by donors. The late David Murbach, Manager of the Gardens Division of Rockefeller Center, scouted in a helicopter for the desired tree in areas including Connecticut, Vermont, Ohio, upstate New York, New Jersey, and even Ottawa, Canada. The trees are now scouted by the Head Gardner at Rockefeller Center, Erik Pauzé. Once a suitable tree is located, a crane supports it while it is cut, and moves it to a custom telescoping trailer that can transport trees up to 125 feet (38 m) tall, although the width of New York City streets passing through Rockefeller Center limits the height of the trees to 110 feet (34 m).
Once at the Rockefeller Center, the tree is supported by four guy-wires attached at its midpoint, and by a steel spike at its base. Scaffolding is put up around the tree to assist workers in putting up 30,000 lights attached to 5 miles (8.0 km) of wiring. The star that has topped the tree since 2004 is 9.5 feet (2.9 m) in diameter and weighs 550 pounds (250 kg). This "Swarovski Star" was created by German artist Michael Hammers, who in 2009 additionally designed his own star lighting production. So along with what seemed like everyone else on the planet, despite the frigid conditions, we went down to Rockefeller Plaza last night to see the tree and the associated Xmas sights and sounds...
Although the official Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933 (the year the 30 Rockefeller Plaza opened), the unofficial tradition began during the Depression-era construction of Rockefeller Center, when workers decorated a smaller 20 feet (6.1 m) balsam fir tree with "strings of cranberries, garlands of paper, and even a few tin cans" on Christmas Eve (December 24, 1931), as recounted by Daniel Okrent in his history of Rockefeller Center. Some accounts have the tree decorated with the tin foil ends of blasting caps. There was no Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in 1932.
The decorated Christmas tree remains lit at Rockefeller Center through January 6, which is the Christian feast of The Epiphany. Then it is removed from the premises and recycled for a variety of uses. In 2007, the tree went "green," employing LED lights. After being taken down, the tree was used to furnish lumber for Habitat for Humanity house construction.
Inspired by all this spectacle, today we went out and selected our own tree, this 5 ft (1.5m) beauty, from one of the many sidewalk vendors found on virtually every corner of our neighborhood.
What do you think of our tree??

Sunday, December 1, 2013

#508- Greetings from Verona

Our trip to Italy last month included a weekend in the ancient, romantic city of Verona. Aside from being the setting of Romeo & Juliet (Q: Can you remember their family names? Answer at the bottom of this post!), it has the 3rd largest Roman amphitheater in the world (well preserved and they still put on operas and other open-air shows there in the summer), many splendid Renaissance buildings and the elegant via Mazzini, the pedestrian-only street lined with many quality shops. Verona is situated on the fast-flowing Adige River in the center of the Veneto region, so is an easy train trip from Milan or Venice. We stayed in an excellent tourist apartment called "Verona Holiday", via Rosa 8, right in the centro storico. The food is similar to Venice and the local wines include the Soave (white, like Sauv. blanc) and the Valpolicella (red, like a pinot noir). It is definitely worth including Verona on any itinerary of NE Italy. Here's a dozen pictures that show why...
Juliet's balcony
Answer: Capulets and Montagues