I just got back from spending 4 days in New York to visit my grandma Ruth. Not surprisingly, she has declined since my visit last year. She still knows who I am, and the first day was relatively energetic, but the rest of the trip she was extremely sleepy and fuzzy-headed and not up to much socializing.
She is 94, but it still seems so unfair that her quality of life has become so poor. And she is still one of the lucky ones! My grandmother's nursing home is supposedly one of the best in the New York area, and still I find it depressing, cold and institutional. How much pleasure can one get living in such a place, eating - what looked like - yucky food - and being cared for by people who don't know you or your past life enough to be able to put your quirks and foibles into the context of who you once were? If only we could all live in our own homes right to the end, being cared for by loved ones. Of course, this is completely unrealistic for most people. Few of us are in a position to devote our lives to caring for our aging relatives, nor can we afford to hire round-the-clock care-givers to take care of them. It's a sad reality.
All this unpleasantness aside, it was still nice to get the chance to see my grandma again, something I wasn't sure would happen last year when I thought I might be visiting her for the last time. Also, I managed to spend some time enjoying the wonderful city and even getting a bit of R&R.
I just adore Manhattan. The energy, the architecture, the pace, the diversity, the history, the people - who I find incredibly polite and friendly. Even the grungy areas are as exciting and interesting to me as the glamourous ones.
The only thing I don't love is most of the chain grocery stores like D'Agostinos and Gristides, which I find have low quality products and high prices. I've decided that the Food Emporium (www.thefoodemporium.com) is the best bet, when it isn't possible to get to a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. I even found a new product I fell in love with: Nasoya's new version of shiratake noodles!
They are better suited to Italian-style pasta dishes than the soy-free ones I buy here, but contain no tofu, just some potato-starch and chickpea flour, so they are still gluten-free. I bought a few bags to cook up this week and I loved them! Now the question is, when and if they will ever make their way to Canada!
On Tuesday while my grandma napped, I walked around the corner and got a fantastic foot and leg massage at the Blooming Nail Spa on 72nd street. They are primarily a mani and pedi salon, but I just wanted some relief for my feet and legs which were paying the price for all my pavement pounding. It was awesome, and I was able to get an appointment on the spot.
I made sure to stop in for a wrap from Energy Kitchen (www.energykitchen.com), one day, a great option for a healthy alternative to fast food when you are on the go, and I visited the great Dag Hammarskjold farmer's market that I discovered last year, held Wednesdays at the corner of 2nd Ave and 45th street (http://www.grownyc.org/daghammarskjoldgreenmarket). I got some gorgeous mutsu apples, the size of bowling balls (big apples from the Big Apple, ha ha), and admired all the awesome produce, and locally and organically produced meats, cheeses and baked goods they had on offer.
Determined to get at least one strength training workout in this week, I took advantage of the free visit coupon from Crunch fitness (www.crunch.com) and checked out their club on 34th street, between 2nd and 2rd Avenues. New Yorkers, if you live in the area, I highly recomment this gym!! Clean and bright, they have an extensive array of quality cardio and strength equipment, as well as well-equipped changerooms and yoga, spin and group fitness studios. Usually sticking to free weights, I changed things up and used their Freemotion equipment, which I fell in love with at the Can Fit Pro conference a few years ago.
I also went to see a movie while I was there, since I never do so at home. I want to see Bully, but decided not to see it while feeling a bit down already about my grandma, nor by myself. Instead, I chose the silly and very funny 21 Jump Street. Holy F-K is this a funny movie! I was in tears I was laughing so hard on several occasions. Definitely a good bet if you want light, humourous entertainment.
I flew Porter airlines and, all things considered, had decent travelling experiences. The flight leaving Toronto was delayed an hour, however, and there was bad turbulence. After my experience with turbulence last time, and a repeat this time, I finally have to admit to myself that my hatred of flying goes beyond my dislike of confined spaces and being sedentary: I am terrified of crashing too! Last time on the way home I screamed out loud during the turbulence, making everyone on the plane stare at me like I was some freak. It was my first time flying Porter and with smaller planes, the turbulence is far more dramatic. I anticipated it this time, but still was completely terrified. On the trip home yesterday, famous author Margaret Atwood was on my flight. This gave me some comfort since at least if we crashed, it would be an event that would gain notoriety (at least my family could say I died on the same flight as Atwood!). As it turned out, there was no turbulence this time anyways, so I was spared any major panic attacks.
Ironically, I became smitten with the chicken burritos from Currito Burritos (www.currito.com) that I picked up at Newark Airport. I got one after I arrived on Monday, and loved it so much, I picked up another on my way out yesterday. The whole wheat burrito with grilled chicken was massive, satisfying and flavourful, thanks to sauteed onions, lots of fresh veggies, and several salsa options (I choose medium spicy and mango salsas), even though I passed on the tempting sour cream, cheese and guacamole.
As much as I adore New York, I'm glad to be home, but I definitely got pay-back this morning. Little A screamed for 45 minutes straight (she wanted Adam, she didn't like the socks I put on her, then she didn't like her shirt, she didn't want to go to daycare, etc., etc.). Also, after enjoying lovely weather in New York, it feels like winter today, and was even snowing a bit when I walked the girls to school. WTF??? It's hard to believe a few weeks ago it felt like summer had arrived.
We have a quiet weekend thankfully, since next week my parents come in and we have the girls' joint birthday party with family, and the weekend after that is Big A's party for friends.
Have a lovely weekend wherever you live!