Monday, December 28, 2015

#606. Merry Christmas 2015

Record highs of 20C and 15C on Christmas Eve and Christmas day respectively did not stop us getting into the Christmas spirit. Xave admitted he was relieved to see that Santa came as he knew that he had sometimes been naughty during the year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

#605. Seasons Greetings from NYC 2015

Unseasonably mild here thanks to El Nino, with warmest Nov. & Dec. on record, getting down to freezing only one night (11/24) so far. With no sign of snow on the horizon, it's shaping up as a repeat of the winters in 2011-2 and 2012-3, though there's plenty of snow out West with fear of avalanches. There's a thick fog tonight in NYC and LaGuardia is shut down - ugh! Even forecast 20 deg C and wet on Friday in NYC. But we are still getting into the holiday spirit!

Monday, December 21, 2015

#604. Five removes from President Roosevelt

On the weekend we rented this Chevrolet Cruze and drove up to the historic town of New Paltz, on the edge of the Catskills and about an hour NW of the city (kind of like going to Katoomba). We stayed in this 200-year old stone house. The property has been in the owner's wife's family since Colonial times and President Roosevelt who lived at "Hyde Park" just across the Hudson near Poughkeepsie (the movie Hyde Park on Hudson with Bill Murray as FDR is quite entertaining) paid her grandfather a visit during WWII - hence cryptic title of this post.
It was chilly on the weekend (-1 to 3 C both days). Still no snow around this winter but frequent flurries on Saturday afternoon. So it was cozy inside the old house and Xavi also enjoyed exploring (and falling in) the creek running down the back. It is a 15 minute walk into town along the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail which runs more then 20 miles all the way to Kingston NY, and these bucolic views toward the Shawangunk Mountains along the way

Friday, December 18, 2015

#603 Look who's 4 and a half!

105 cm and 16.5 kg of fun. J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

#602 amazing touchdown

Look at this! Another amazing feat by Odell Beckham Jnr. for the Giants in Monday night's game vs. the Dolphins in Miami. For a touchdown to count off a pass, you have to catch the ball with both feet on the ground with in the field of play (inside the white line)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

#601. Hi from "Stra"

We just returned from a week in Italy and on the recommendation of we decided to visit the Piedmont region in the North West of the country, over by the French Alps and an area we had not been to before. After flying into Milan, we spent the first 4 nights at the "Stra" farm stay on a vineyard near a village called Novello, about 50 miles south of Turin.
This wine district is called Langhe and while it might be the Italian version of the Hunter Valley or Barossa Valley, it is certified by UNESCO for the cultural significance of the vineyard landscapes.
The first 2 days were sunny but crisp with a frost at night. The other 2 days were foggy, only clearing just before sunset at 4:50 pm. Apparently typical weather for this time of year in that part of the world.
Xavi enjoyed the farm, especially playing with the little dog Dino.
We enjoyed walking "tra le vigne" (between the vines) although the clay soil was nightmare, and it was interesting seeing the farmer bottling the Barolo wine which is about the same price as Grange in NYC but 20 euros at the cellar door.
See next post (#602) for towns around the Langhe.

Friday, December 11, 2015

#600.1 Update on First Av. closure

UPPER EAST SIDE — Police continue to block off parts of East 63rd Street to traffic and pedestrians three days after bricks rained down onto the roadway from a building under construction. A wall of bricks tumbled off the facade of 340 E. 64th St., near First Avenue, and onto East 63rd Street on Monday at around the same time as Monica & Xavi walk up 63rd to go to swimming, and while no was hurt during the incident, East 63rd Street, from York to Second avenue, and First Avenue, from East 62nd to East 64th streets, remains closed until the city determines they're safe for pedestrians, according to a Department of Buildings spokesman. The building was undergoing renovation at the time, including work on its facade, roof and terraces, according to DOB records.
While some Upper East Siders said the street closures are inconvenient, others said it was a welcome relief from the heavy traffic that usually takes over the area. "It's wonderful," said East 63rd Street resident Jay Katz. "I hope they keep it closed. This is the loudest street in New York." Katz, who moved to the block four months ago, said he can't sleep at night without running his air conditioner to block out the sound of honking horns caused by traffic backed up from the Queensboro Bridge, an issue that has been attributed to the timing of the street lights. "I feel unsafe here," Katz added. "It's bullsh-t that bricks have fallen and to not know the reason." Celeste J., a resident of East 63rd Street, was walking her dog west on the street until she came upon the road block. She ended up having to walk around to York Avenue and up East 64th Street instead to go home, she said. "I'm just curious why the bricks fell," she said.
Several stores are also closed off to pedestrians as well, including Lunetta Pizza, Felice, JAJ's Nails, Ahana Sushi, a wine shop, called Cork & Bottle and 16 Handles. "We have zero business right now," said Cork & Bottle owner Tom Schasar, adding that he typically gets 500 to 600 customers on an average day during the holiday season. He said he was also concerned for his nine employees who have been out of work for the past three days. "Nobody knows what theyre doing and there's no information about when they're going to have the sidewalk open." Residents of Yorkgate, at 405 E. 63rd St., told their doorman, Leo Sahiti, that its been hard to go shopping on the block, Sahiti said. "Everybody is complaining" he added.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

#600 First Avenue Partially Closed After Wall Collapses Into Street, City Says

UPPER EAST SIDE — A wall of bricks tumbled off the front of a building on the Upper East Side and crashed onto East 63rd Street, leaving part of First Avenue closed Tuesday, officials said. The avenue was temporarily shut down to traffic from East 59th Street to East 64th Street. The bricks were still strewn across the roadway after falling from the face of 340 E. 64th St., just off First Avenue, about 10:40 p.m., officials said.
The building has eight open DOB violations, mostly for elevator issues, according to the agency's website. "It's the layer above the roofline that came off," FDNY Deputy Chief John McLaughlin said. "Most of it landed on setbacks, but quite a good amount of debris ended up in the street at this intersection." Miraculously, no one was injured, fire officials said. Witnesses said they heard a thunderous crash. "I just got into my car and heard screaming from the street," said Rachel Surizon, who lives in the building. "It was a very big noise. The first minute, I thought maybe it was a bomb. I saw some stone falling." McLaughlin said First Avenue would likely be shut down for at least a day. "The big issue is not so much what needs to be fixed, it's how to get up there to fix it," he said. "So we're talking about 24 to 48 hours probably before we get a good assessment of what's happening." The Department of Buildings was dispatching staff to investigate, according to its website. McLaughlin said the damage could've been far worse had the incident happened earlier in the day. "I would say that's the one thing the worked for us," he said. "But even at that hour, it's New York City. You generally have pedestrian traffic, so it is remarkable." source: By Trevor Kapp and Aidan Gardiner | December 8, 2015 8:55am (

Thursday, November 26, 2015

#599. Happy Thanksgiving

Beautiful day today: got up to 15C. Central Park was spectacular. Watched the parade in the morning and had Aust. expat friends Ray, Diane & Katerina for dinner in the evening.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

#598. Beautiful fall colors at the NYBG

Fall colors are past their peak in the NYC area now, but they were peaking last week when we visited the Botanical Garden