My final week in NYC is here

LIBERTY ISLAND & ELLIS ISLAND – As my time here comes to a close I find leaving to be bittersweet, and exactly as it should be.  I am ready to return home but sad to leave my new friends. To all of you here in NYC, you’ve made my time here incredibly special.  As we all know, life is what you make of it and the people around you matter.  Thank you once again for all that you have done for me here.  

LIFE IN GENERAL – I’ve spent this past weekend catching up on a few last-minute museums and some eateries.  I made it to the Transit Museum in Brooklyn and ate at Sarge’s Deli is mid-Manhattan. The transit museum was good but I’ve reached saturation on museums.  It’s sad but true, I reached Museum burn-out!  Sarge’s Deli was very good and the staff was exceptional. Opened in the 1960’s and I do believe it gives Katz Deli some true competition.














Pondering my final week ahead – I’ve thought a lot about these last weeks.  All the things I’ve learned, enjoyed, and will miss.  I’ve also thought about returning home and the blessings of family and friends who I have missed.  Some days I really do ponder about all the pieces and parts of living and how intricate and joyful our lives can be if we allow it.

As those of you who know me can attest, my life has been rich in many ways.  There have been bright days and there have been dark days.  In all of it though, I have been given much and for that I owe much in return.  My desire to experience and learn from others has been a powerful asset.   I’ve always wanted to better understand other people and the lives they live which helps me to live mine more fully.  I believe in a God who has protected me, provided for me, and walked with me through it all.  Even in the darkest of days when losses were all encompassing, my God was still there.  And when I was angry at Him and needed a break, he remained there for me.  You see, life is not easy nor is it simple.  But it can be if we stop to share moments with others, make friends with all, and take time to give back in every way possible. I believe life truly is what we make of it and how we choose to be present with the people and events we share. 

Over the course of these past 14-weeks, I have embraced this new adventure.  I have been blessed to be with people who nourished and accepted me, who allowed me into their lives, who shared a little or a lot, and who will forever be a part of my being.  Here is just a few of the many blessings this journey has provided me.  I have . . .  

achieved success in my ability to make a difference through volunteering.

been supported by family and friends in my endeavors.

been supportive of others.

been reminded of all the silly questions we ask when living the tourist life.

been humbled.

been right.

been wrong.

completed a dream from my bucket list.

developed an added appreciation for our National Park Service and its employees.

experienced the world from a New York point of view.

explored the city, its attractions, and its people.

felt a sense of accomplishment.

helped thousands of visitors find the restrooms.


made new friends who have and will continue to impact my life.

observed the ways and whys of those around me.

opened my mind and heart to new ideas.

To all of you here in NYC, you’ve made my time here special.  I’ve tried my best to understand and appreciate your way of life more fully and I feel I’ve made progress. However, I also realize I can never be a true “New Yorker.”  This great city, rich in history and character, is certainly one I will continue to visit with a deeper sense of appreciation.  

Be safe and stay well. And please forgive any typos or grammatical errors.

Hugs to all,


P.S. My brother had open heart surgery last Friday (9/23/22) and is recuperating. He’s had some struggles but is going to be just fine. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes.

Bringing things to a close . . .

Two weeks left to check off a big bucket list item for me.  My dream to work and live in New York City for 3 months is almost complete.  How great it is to have dreams and I am so fortunate to be able to work to bring them to fruition.  I will always be grateful for how very blessed I am.  

LIFE IN GENERAL – What a fabulous week this was.  I took off Saturday for Troy, NY to visit my grandson Thomas.  He is a freshman at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and I’ve made it a goal to see my grandchildren once a year in their college environment.  Seeing and being with them in their home space is so enlightening, especially in their first year.  I will confess to being a bit of a worry-wart and their first year away can be a big deal.  Knowing they fit in and feel at home is incredibly comforting to me and that is exactly what I found with Thomas.  He loves the area, the architecture, the people, and everything about his new home.  He is content and happy and that means everything to me.   We had lunch, walked about the town and then climbed (and I do mean climbed) to the college campus.  We walked, we sat and we talked about it all and I feel so fortunate that I was able to be there and that he wanted to engage with me.  The campus sits on a hill high above the city.  It’s beautiful, it really is.  Here are a few pictures from the area and our time together:

Thomas & Mara – Grandma’s first trip to RPI   


“THE APPROACH” as you enter the RPI campus.         
The bridge where all events and meetings are posted via fliers.






A look inside the bridge.








Moving on up Campus . . . more steps!
Not sure where we are here but I believe this is looking down toward town as we climbed the Approach.
























Looking from THE APPROACH on campus towards Troy.










The Alan Voorhees Computing Center located next to Library on campus.  Beautiful!


















And we part ways for now. See you at Thanksgiving!





























LIBERTY ISLAND – Another week where visitors are slowing down.  I did take a picture of the quilt on exhibit that is a stunning example of patriotic quality.  Thought you might enjoy seeing it.

Beautiful patriotic quilt on display in the Liberty Museum.










ELLIS ISLAND – It was a Hard Hat Tour week!!!!  Now this experience was enlightening.  I see now why people will take it multiple times.  There is so much history here and so much to learn.  Did you know that:

  • Ellis Island was actually three (3) (mostly man made) islands connected via a long corridor.
  • Irish immigrants were the labor force in building The Brooklyn Bridge and the subway system.
  • The dirt from the digging for the subway system was used to form the 2 additional islands connected to Ellis Island where the 29 building hospital complex was built.
  • From 1900-1954, more than 15 million immigrants came through Ellis Island (12 million were between 1900-1924). During this time 350 babies were born and 3500 died while on the island.  Only 2% (350,000) were returned due to illness or inability to prove they had financial support necessary to keep them from being wards of the state.
  • The major diseases found were Trachoma, Tuberculosis, and dispheria. Favis, a scalp disease, as well as ringworm were also found.
  • Chidlren with Ringworm were sent to the hospital, separated from their parents, and charged $2 per day for their care.
  • The cost for a voyage to America took 40-90 days and cost $30 in 1900.
  • Immigration officials did not change sir names at Ellis Island.

The French artist, JR, superimposed various archived photos onto parts of the abandoned hospital buildings.  They give it an eerie feel as these were actual photos of people who were in the hospitals and their families. 

The doors which immigrants used to enter the immigration center.








This is the original bench from the main entryway. You will see it in the picture below of the immigrants.







One of the French artist JR’s postings of actual immigrants.













These pictures are a little creepy to me. But they are actual immigrants.















LITTLE ITALY STREET FAIR – The Feast of San Gennaro began this week.  It’s a celebration of the life of San Gennaro of Naples who was the bishop of Benevento, Italy and martyred in 350AD.  The link, for more information, can be found at

Food was absolutely OUTSTANDING!  Meatballs the size of softballs, cannolis of every variety, and gelato that was better than anything I’ve tasted!  Spent Friday afternoon here and had a wonderful time, especially with the street vendors.

It’s a Street Fair!
Gelato – oh my. Yum yum
And more Cannoli’s








STATUE CITY CRUISES – The one obvious thing I have not mentioned is that the ride to work every day includes a ferry trip.  I’ve posted pictures of the boats but have failed to mention the incredible crew that work these ferries every day.  There are crews at Battery Park where we begin our journey and then more at Ellis Island and Liberty Island to assist with loading and unloading these ferries.  Each one has capacity for 600-800 people.  That’s a lot of people, a lot of questions, and quick turnarounds to keep these ferries on time.  (There is one every 25 minutes!). These folks are quality people and I have enjoyed their professionalism each day in my travels as well as those they serve all day long.  Part of the work we do on the islands is to help folks ascertain the right line for the right ferry to get them where they want to be.  That can have its challenges, especially when you consider all the varying languages from our guests and visitors who are not familiar with the city and often forget where they started their journey from.  Kudos, and I really mean giant Kudos, to the entire staff of Statue City Cruises for providing such excellent services. 













MAIL – Sweet letter from my friend Katelyn this week.  She made my day!   For my prayerful friends, please keep my brother (Mickey) in your prayers.  He will be having heart surgery on September 23!  

I wish all of you a wonderful week.  Be safe and stay well. And please forgive any typos or grammatical errors.

Hugs to all,



Taking it all in . . .


LIFE IN GENERAL – Things are winding down for me as I have just 3 weeks left here.  Today I spent my morning deciding what places were a must see and do before leaving.  There is more to see and do than I have time for and that’s so sad!  It’s funny how it felt I had loads of time to do things my first month.  Then, the middle lull came and I didn’t do anything for a week or two.  Now, it is my final weeks and it is flying by.  My list is longer than my time left.  I am going to have to really focus to get it all in before I leave! 

LIBERTY ISLAND – Visitors were sporadic this week with slow days and busy days.  We had rain the first part of the week which slowed things down a bit.  Here’s a picture from last Tuesday from Battery Park looking out at Liberty compared to one the following day of a cruise ship passing through.  

It was a rainy and foggy morning on Tuesday September 6, 2022.
Cruise ship coming through New York.










By Friday, visitation was back up to good numbers and Friday and Saturday this week was busy busy busy.  

We learned this week that Supervisor Suzanne McCoy has decided to retire at the end of 2022.  What a bittersweet moment as everyone, while happy for her, are sad for ourselves.  She is one of the best and will be missed here at Liberty Island.

9-11 ANNIVERSARY – As you might imagine, the 9-11anniversary is full of remembrance events.  I’ve met several people who experienced that day first-hand.   I know we all remember 9-11 with great sadness.   I now also know our experience from afar pales in comparison to those here.  My heart goes out to New York and all those who experienced the events of that day first-hand.   We will never forget!  There were many recognition events but I elected not to take any pictures as it just didn’t seem right to do so.

ELLIS ISLAND – I am still hoping to get on one of the hard hat tours of the Ellis Island buildings not open to the public.    

VOLUNTEER HOURS – Volunteer hours for my term here will be approximately 543 hours.  I feel GREAT about that and the opportunity to give back.  And, I look forward to continuing my local volunteer work at San Antonio Missions when I return home. Look out SAAN, I’m coming back soon!  

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park | Texas Time Travel

CHURCH – I attended Trinity Episcopal Wall Street this week once again, but at a later service.  The 11:15 a.m. service was traditional and beautiful!   If I lived here full-time this would by my church for sure. 

MAIL –  Thanks for the mail this week.  Melissa and my Aunt Jane never forget – – – I get a card from each of them every week!  I also received a surprise letter from my friend Katie.  You’re the best!  And the phone calls and texts – – – I love them too.  For my prayerful friends, please keep my brother (Mickey) in your prayers.  He will be having heart surgery on September 23!  

I wish all of you a wonderful week.  I’ll be traveling Saturday this week to visit Thomas at college (Rensselaer Polytechnic).  I will take some pictures and they’ll be in my next post.

Be safe and stay well. And please forgive any typos or grammatical errors.

Hugs to all,


My final month begins . . .

 LIFE IN GENERAL – The week began with a wonderful cool day, including a breeze over the water that felt perfect.  That was Tuesday.  The rest of the week warmed back to the upper 80s and higher humidity.  Ugh!  I’m kind of tired of the heat and so so ready for fall.  This week rain is projected as I start my week and expected to continue through Wednesday evening.  That’s going to be fun on my walking commute!

LIBERTY ISLAND – Things are slowing down some, but visitors are still coming in by the thousands.  We had a couple slower moments during the days this week, but they were minimal.  I’m anxious to see if it trails off more by mid-September.

Island EMT staff – a bunch of great people for sure!







ELLIS ISLAND – I continue to spend Thursdays on Ellis Island and getting to know the staff there.  One day a week is more like a normal volunteer, and I see why it takes a few months to feel connected.  It’s different when you are there multiple days in a row.

 CHURCH:  I attended Trinity Episcopal Wall Street this week and it was delightful.  The service was wonderful, the music glorious, and the homily better than ever.  It wasn’t St. Thomas in San Antonio (my all-time favorite) but it is now my 2nd most loved experience.  There were several things unique in this service that I had not seen before and found refreshing and inspiring.








For my fellow Episcopalians, take a look at these changes:  At the beginning of the service, they included a Gathering Prayer directly following the Acclamation.  It reads below:

Dear God,
Thank you so much
for bringing us to this time and place.
Please be with us
as we listen, pray, sing, and learn.
And help us remember that
you will always love us.

The Confession and Absolution reads as follows:

Loving God, Sometimes we do things we shouldn’t do. Sometimes we don’t do the things we should do.  We are sorry.  Forgive us for our mistakes. Help us make good choices.  And remind us that you love us.

During the Fraction and Invitation for communion, it was as follows:.                 Celebrant:  The Gifts of God for the People of God.  Behold what you are.             People:  May we become what we receive.

 Closing Prayer and Dismissal:  God be in my head, God be in my heart, God be in my left hand, God be in my right hand, God be in my whole life. 

The Museum of Mathematics (MOMATH) – Last weekend I ventured out to visit the Museum of Mathematics.  What a great (albeit small) museum for some hands on experiences with math.  Young and old alike will enjoy their time here.  A great stop and a great find!  







St. Paul’s ChapelSkip and Ginny and I visited St. Paul’s Chapel while they were here.  A beautiful church which stood so close to the twin towers on 9-11 and yet not a window was broken.  Protected by God for sure.

South SeaportMy friends Skip and Ginny Thomas from New Jersey came up to visit with me and we were able to visit the South Seaport (thanks to Ginny’s navigation skills!).  How South Street Seaport Began: Some NYC History (copied from an internet website)For almost 400 years, the seaport has served the city as a hub of commerce and entertainment. When New York was first discovered by Henry Hudson in the 17th century, the neighborhood acted as an outpost for the Dutch West India Company. The trade that started here helped New York’s economy grow to be one of the most successful in the world. As time went on, the South Street Seaport continued to transform as a gateway for international shipping, the wholesale fish trade, and the printing press business. A new urban renewal plan was even pioneered for the neighborhood to preserve historic buildings while modern construction could continue alongside it.  Things took a turn for the worse after Hurricane Sandy hit New York in October of 2012. South Street Seaport was left heavily damaged and flooded in seven feet of water. Many businesses closed and Pier 17, the hub of the entire neighborhood, was torn down. But, as New York has done time and time again, the city was able to rebuild and bring the neighborhood back to its former glory. South Street Seaport was the city’s first 24-hour neighborhood, and today it still fits right in with “the city that never sleeps.” From the former Fulton Fish Market to the modern mall filled with shops and food, the South Street Seaport has so much to offer.  







Historical Walk through the West End and Greenwich Village– My friend, Eric Byron, took me on an architectural dream walk through the west end of lower Manhattan and Greenwich Village.  Some of the most famous homes and historical sites are around here and it was really interested.  I was so fortunate to have my own private tour and am so grateful to Eric for making it happen.   

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory:  Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, on Saturday, March 25, 1911, was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city, and one of the deadliest in U.S. history. 146 women died in this tragic event.




Stonewall Forever:  In the summer of 1969, brave individuals from the LGBTQ community marked a monumental change.  The gay bar, The Stonewall Inn, was raided on June 28, 1969. The confrontations continued for several days in nearby Christopher Park on adjacent streets.  This uprising catalyzed the LGBTQ civil rights movement. 








Historic wood framed homes are a rarity:  Amongst the rise of big tall buildings you will occasionally find a small wood framed home that was built in the 1800’s still standing.  Here are a couple.
















New York’s ‘narrowest’ home – 75½ Bedford Street is a house located in the West Village neighborhood of New York City that is only 9 feet 6 inches (2.9 meters) wide. Built in 1873, it is often described as the narrowest house in New York.  It’s also known as the Millay House, as famous poet Edna St. Vincent Millay lived here with her husband in the early 1920s.










Cherry Lane Theatre – Located in Greenwich Village, Cherry Lane Theatre is New York City’s oldest continuously running off-Broadway theatre. The Cherry Lane officially opened to the public in March 1924, but the building was originally constructed as a farm silo in 1817. Kim Hunter, acclaimed actress who created the role of “Stella” in “A Streetcar named Desire” lived above this theatre with her playwright husband, Robert Emmett, from 1954 until her death in 2002. 





Northern Dispensary, West Village – This landmark was built as a clinic for the poor in 1831 with a third floor added in 1854.  It’s one of those Village paradoxes – a triangular building, and the only one in New York with two streets on one side (Grove and Christopher where they join), and two sides on one street (Waverly Place, where it forks to go off in two directions). 









Washington Park and the Washington Monument – In 1797 the City’s Common Council acquired the land for use as a “Potter’s Field” and for public executions, giving rise to the legend of the “Hangman’s Elm” in the park’s northwest corner. The tree still stands today.

The site became a public park in 1827. Following this designation, prominent families, wanting to escape the disease and congestion of downtown Manhattan, moved into the area and built the distinguished Greek Revival mansions that still line the square’s north side.












Have a wonderful week.   Forgive any typos or grammatical errors please.

Hugs to all,  Mara

“I’m in a New York state of mind.”

LIFE IN GENERAL – I listened to Billy Joel’s song this past week and feel like I understand it for the first time ever.  There is definitely a state of mind that you fall into living here.  Not sure if it is the pace, the activity, or just the general spirit and excitement of the city.  It feels invigorating AND challenging at the same time.

The week was generally quiet.  The beginning of the week was beautiful with a couple cool days and hardly any humidity.  By Wednesday, that was gone though and the heat and humidity were back up to uncomfortable levels.  

FOOD –  My adventure with food this week involved a trip to Katz Delicatessen. Their story starts “Back in 1888 a small deli by the name of Iceland Brothers was established on Ludlow Street in New York’s Lower East Side by the Iceland brothers. Upon the arrival of Willy Katz in 1903, the name of the store was officially changed to “Iceland & Katz”. Willy’s cousin Benny joined him in 1910, buying out the Iceland brothers to officially form Katz’s Delicatessen.”  

I went there after church, arriving around 1:00 pm only to find a long line outside.  I’m told there is always a line at Katz Deli.  So you wait in the line outside and then you wait in another line inside with a meat cutter who cuts the meat and prepares your sandwich.  Oh my was it good.  I had a Reuben that was too big to eat.  You really need to go there in a group.  

The famous pickles . . . yum!
You can’t really see how big this sandwich is . . . I could not get it in my mouth.
I opened the sandwich – look at all that meat!


CHURCH:  My place of worship this week was Calvary St. George’s Episcopal Church on the lower east side of Manhattan. It is a beautiful church.  The homily was fabulous and the pianist and soloist were wonderful.  A perfect Sunday service.

According to the church website, “The life of a parish is like the life of a family, and the parish of Calvary, St. George’s, and Holy Communion in the City of New York traces its roots to 1749 when Trinity Church established the Chapel of St. George’s on Beekman Street in lower Manhattan.  Over the years, the congregation developed in strength, until in 1811 it became a self-supporting parish of the Episcopal Church. In 1846, St. George’s moved to Stuyvesant Square.”  

Notice the projection of information on the front wall. Beautiful interior. I love these old churches.


THE TENEMENT MUSEUM – After lunch I walked a ways to Chinatown and made a stop at The Tenement Museum.  Now that was a find.  I took one of their tours and learned about working women of the time.  

These are the tenement houses still standing today.
This is across the street from The Tenement Museum and the ads on the buildings are from the 1900s. Many of the businesses are still there and operating.


LADY LIBERTY – The heat is back and humidity came with it.  Looks like the week ahead will continue with temps in the 80’s and humidity in upper levels. 

ELLIS ISLAND – Day 2 at Ellis Island is complete.  I’m learning so much and am enjoying my time there.

ARGOSY BOOKSTORE -Argosy Book Store, founded in 1925, is now in its third generation of family ownership. The oldest and only remaining family owned bookstore in NYC.


THE WHITNEY MUSEUM –  The Whitney Museum of American Art was incredible.  I found it interesting although I must admit my art appreciation has some challenges.  I often feel overwhelmed by the piece or feel little if any understanding of the piece.  I shared that with an artist I met and she offered me some suggestions.  Art, she says, is not something everyone will like.  However, if you can focus on one part of the piece and appreciate that it will help.   Look at the technique the artist used or maybe their choice of colors or even the style of the presentation.  Concentrate on appreciating that first.  Worry less about understanding the actual piece if it feels overwhelming.  Just focus on the small parts.  Great advice and I can’t wait to try this out at my next museum stop.

MAIL – Thanks for all the mail this week.  You really made my week!  Amber, Kyle, Anna, Katie, Dana, Jack, and Luke.  And thanks to those of you who called.  What a treat to hear from friends and family.  

Here are a couple random family pictures and shout outs to my grandkids who started (or will start) school this week.  The only one missing is Michaela, who is busy starting her senior year in high school.

Thomas (Melissa’s son) packing to leave for Renssalear Polytechnic and his first year of college.
Jennifer’s boys (Luke, Jack and Reid) got new t-shirts for their first day of school. In honor of their Grammy they work Statue of Liberty shirts! That’s my boys. Jack and Luke are in 9th grade and Reid is in his 3rd year at Oklahoma State.


Have a wonderful week.   Forgive any typos or grammatical errors please.

Hugs to all,  Mara





It’s the halfway point . . . only 7 weeks left in NYC

EMBARRASSING REALITIES – I’ve actually been really good this week!  Grace followed me around and there were no spills, falls, or face plants! However, I did share this gift with my grandson Jack.  He inherited his grace from his Granny and I am so sorry about that.  As he was getting ready to get on the bus for his 2nd day of school this week he fell and skidded under the bus steps. He’s doing well now though as he brushed himself off and went back to school the following day!





FOOD – It was a quiet week foodwise other than the Danish bakery I found! Lagkagehuset is a Danish bakery chain with over 100 branches in Denmark, London, and New York City.  It was founded in the 1990s and it is incredible.  These types of special places are all over here.  You just never know what golden treasure you will find around the next corner.  I love that about NYC.  The cinnamon role missing was mine.  And it was sooooooooo good.  They are called Cinnamon Swirls and the thin layers of pastry flake with every bite! 







Spotted Lanternfly –  Remember this from last week.  Here are the tracking kills . . .







CHURCH:  My place of worship this week was St. Clements.  Their website provides: “Welcome to St. Clement’s Episcopal Church – A congregation that has always celebrated the ministry of women, of gay and lesbian people, and those of all walks of life; a longtime center of service to the poor, celebrating social activism and creative liturgy, we are one of the most diverse Episcopal parishes in New York City.  St. Clement’s celebrates and serves the theatre district community, symbolized by our famous Mass in the Theatre (most Sundays). We remain the third oldest, continually operating Off Broadway Theatre in New York City.”













What a quaint little church and a very welcoming group.  The sanctuary is on the 2nd floor of the building, and they are able to continue operations due to income received from their theatre rentals.  You’ll notice in the pictures of the front of the church that this Sunday was the final showing of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in their theatre.  The congregation was small (only 6 of us this day) plus 2 choir members and a pianist.  However small, they were mighty as they sang and played with gusto.  I am happy to have had this experience. 

LADY LIBERTY –  This week Liberty Island went from unbearable heat to the most beautiful of breezy waterfront days. Check out one of the Ferries coming into the dock on a beautiful breezy day.









One thing I will share with you this week has to do with our wonderful visitors.  These people make us who we are and their interest in the monument allow us to continue doing what we do.  We appreciate and respect them and I’ve yet to see an exasperated ranger.  However, I have been an exasperated Volunteer.  Allow me to share some insights.  As we begin our day the arrivals are happy, calm, eager to see the Lady and visit the museum. 







The original torch as it now stands in the new museum.












My first station is the Torch Room on most days and I stand ready to answer questions about the original Torch on display in the room and the replica of Liberty’s face mounted on the wall.  There are many pleasant conversations with guests as they learn about these items.  As the day progresses, the conversations lessen and the need for direction increases.  You see, there is no food or drink allowed in the museum (can you think of a museum that even allows food or drink inside the building?) nor can you climb on any of the exhibits. 

It seems the parents begin to close that mindful eye and kids begin climbing on the rails, trying to enter the exhibit by going under the rails (normally 2–3-year-olds along with an occasional crawler let loose on the floor), or the adult who decided the rail is really a bench and climbs to sit and relax a bit. “I’m sorry” I say “but you are not allowed to sit on the rails.  It can be dangerous, and we want to protect you and the exhibit.”  Those words are met with apologies, blank stares, or simple disgust that you would dare say such a thing to them.  I continue to smile and move along.

By afternoon, poor Lady Liberty’s face has been slapped, smacked, kissed, and thousands of pictures have been taken with heads and hands up her nose.  I did have to ask the parents of a 4-year-old to remove her from the face as she was using Liberty’s lips as a climbing platform.  They were not pleased with me.  (We always try to find a parent first to address as opposed to the child as that never seems to go well.)

The same is true for food & drink.  More open cup lemonades find their way into the museum requiring direction.  Again, apologies, blank stares, or just ignoring your words seems to work equally well amongst them.  Food issues are rare until the 3-4ish crowd when you’ll see children carrying open bags of chips, some folks trying to have a picnic inside the building (it is air conditioned, so I guess that makes it the most desirable location), or the occasional muffin coming straight out of the backpack for an afternoon snack. 

So, the next time you go to a museum where there is a ranger or volunteer available, ask them a question.  That’s what they are there for and that’s what they love doing.  And be sure to thank them for all the work they do with a smile on their face to maintain the exhibits.  And please, no food or drink inside the museum. Ha!

ELLIS ISLAND – My first day on Ellis Island was last Thursday.  To start my day there I met Charlie DeLeo, known as the keeper of the flame.  He climbed the torch every day and completed maintenance of the torch from 1972 to 2002 with no harness. And then, after retirement, followed this as a Volunteer for the next 22 years. He definitely loves Lady Liberty and what she represents. 

Charlie cleaning the glass on the torch
Charlie cleaning the new torch installed in 1986.



















Click on following for a video about Charlie:  Charlie DeLeo Video











Ellis Island or Liberty Island?  Which do I like better? –  There is a very distinct difference between Liberty and Ellis Islands.  Not only is the pace slower (only about 30% of visitors who come to Liberty Island make a stop at Ellis Island), but the amount of information Rangers can share is greater because it is so much less chaotic there.  You may find this difficult to believe but not all people are interested in the history of our country or the history of immigration. 


My first day there was all about learning the mechanics – – – how this and that works, where to go to find x or y, and, naturally, where the restrooms are!  There are lots of questions about the Wall of Honor (which I learned is a donation based wall that anyone can be listed on for a donation) and the “Book” many think exists with the signatures of the immigrants.  Unfortunately there is no “book” with signatures.  There are records of immigrants from 1892-1924 maintained by the American Family Information History Center (AFIHC) and anyone can search these records here at Ellis Island or online at






The Hard Hat Tour, which is talked about with great respect, is a walking tour of the Hospital area of the island.  The tour is $50 which goes to the restoration fund to upgrade these buildings. I hope to attend one of these this week or next. 











Now that I am ‘trained’, I will go there every Thursday and learn more and more I am certain.  Because of the slower pace there, it is a great opportunity to glean more information from the Rangers who have a huge depth of knowledge after the history of this island and immigration as it occurred in the past.  I also find it interesting and enlightening to gather their thoughts on immigration today.  All in all, an incredible learning opportunity for me.

 WEATHER – Finally, a reprieve!  “HELL” arrived early in the week with temps near 100 (and heat indexes over 100). I know I live in Texas but I must say this is a different heat and it was miserable!  By Thursday though it had cooled and we had a wonderful end of the week.  Temps in the low 70’s for the morning walk and the high didn’t go beyond the upper 80’s with a very nice breeze.  I was happy to be walking the streets of NYC again.

MAIL – Daughter Melissa,  who never fails to send me a card or package each week,  sent a mug that says “MAMA” to me this week and I just love it.  The little things can warm your heart and make being away so much better.  You’d think I was too old to be homesick but not true.  I thank her and everyone else for their calls and notes.  You make it so much easier for me to do and enjoy these crazy adventures.  I appreciate you ALL more than you know.  

Have a wonderful week.  I’m off today and am heading off to see the Whitney Museum of Art and find a new lunch place to try.  Hugs to all,





Life Continues in NYC as I learn more and more along the way . . .

EMBARRASSING REALITIES – Thank goodness there have been none this week.  However, there has been a little residual effect from last week’s fall.  Apparently, I fell harder than I thought and ended up with a large bruise down my shin.  It got painful enough that by Thursday evening I knew I needed to take a day or two off to rest.  I called in sick on Friday and went to urgent care (something I wasn’t counting on during this New York experience!).

I found a newly opened urgent care location just one block away from my room and they were great.  Super friendly people, kind and considerate, and very thorough.  The doctor didn’t look older than 18 but she knew her stuff.  Good news, nothing more than a deep bruise for which rest, elevation and ice should repair in 2-4 days.

I’m on my fourth day in my very small room, finding ways to elevate the leg (suitcases work great), and using a zip lock bag full of ice for icing.  Watching old movies and reading to fill the hours and it is beginning to look and feel better.  I went on a ‘test-walk’ this afternoon and while it still swells some the pain is pretty much gone.  An ace bandage wrap is doing the trick and I plan on returning to work tomorrow. 

Feels so much worse than it looks! This was last Friday at Urgent Care.


Urgent Care facility


BROOKLYN – Last Monday I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.  Walking across wasn’t a problem.  The problem was finding the entrance to get on it!  Between construction and a very remote, somewhat hidden entrance I walked by twice before stopping to ask policeman and street worker to help me find it.  

The stairway up to the Brooklyn Bridge.  Everywhere I go seems to have multi flights of steps to climb!














Walking along the bridge. As you can tell it was a fine misty rain all day.
The car lanes are below and to my right as I cross the bridge.
Really foggy so I did not get good pictures of the New York and New Jersey coastlines.
Plaques recognizing the bridge and its builders.

















Also, in case you did not know this, ETSY is headquartered in Brooklyn!







FOOD – Once I arrived in Brooklyn I stopped for lunch at a Bistro where I had the best burger and fries ever!   Only $30 and I didn’t mind.  It was really good!

Brooklyn Bistro







And just for grins . . . I thought Brooklyn had some lovely green grass!













Spotted Lanternfly – This invasive species is a threat to trees, plants, etc.  It excretes a gross residue that can turn to mold and leaves a sticky substance which becomes slipper when stepped upon.  Plus, they stink!  We are asked to kill them when possible and there is a ranger contest going on at Liberty to see who kills the most!  Take a look at one below:

Spotted Lanternfly






CHURCH: I was a Youtube attendee again today at my home church this week.  So glad they are online as my need for rest and elevation required online church yesterday.  

LADY LIBERTY – This past week I was able to rove inside the pedestal on my own and learned even more about this wonderful monument.  Did you know:

  • Liberty is 305 feet tall and weighs 225 tons.
  • The water around the statue is 62 feet deep.
  • Visitors could actually walk up all the way to the torch until July 30, 1916.
  • Lightning strikes the torch an average of 600 times each year.
  • It is 215 steps to the pedestal and an additional 592 steps to the crown.

ELLIS ISLAND – This week I will add a new adventure as I begin spending Thursdays on Ellis Island.  I am really looking forward to this and the chance to learn more about the Immigration Museum and Research Library.  I’ll be taking a hard had tour of the island this week or next, not sure yet.

WEATHER – Today is HOT HOT HOT and HUMID HUMID HUMID!  A little rain yesterday just added steam to the mix.   This past week was another hot and humid one.   Expectations are for rain to follow me this week through Thursday with highs in the 90’s, and high humidity levels.   I really am looking forward to September and some cooler weather with much lower humidity levels.

MAIL – I’m giving a huge shout out to my Aunt Jane for the crossword puzzle books she sent.  I got them today and am really enjoying the break to work the old brain!  What a great idea!  Thanks Jane.

Hugs and love coming your way,  Mara


My first month in New York comes to a close.

EMBARRASSING REALITIES – This week’s classic funny involves a simple Friday morning walk.  Nothing new this day in it’s beginning.  I stopped for my Friday morning Starbucks treat which has become my reward for the week . . . Strawberry Açaí lemonade. Yum!  With that in hand I walked on with a spring in my step. Three blocks later I greeted my morning security cop, quick chat and moved on. With my subway entrance in sight I tripped, face planted on sidewalk, bye bye Strawberry Açaí, scuffed my chin and put a few skid marks on my lovely white volunteer shirt.   Two people checked on me but I quickly uprighted myself, brushed off the pink liquid, assessed the damage to my shirt (great scotch guarding as it rolled right off) and moved on. GRACE, it has never followed me around!

You may wonder why I tell you these embarrassing moments on myself.  And they are embarrassing.  But, more importantly, we are all not blessed with the same degree of grace and some of us stumble more than others.  However, laughing at ourselves in good spirit is probably the closest we come to accepting our flaws and embracing ourselves in love.  Laugh away my friends because I know you love me and support me always.

See the skid marks?











FOOD – Not a lot new in this area this week although I did have Saturday night dinner at Hudson Yards Grill, an American restaurant featuring refined classics.  The ambiance was wonderful and I enjoyed a delighted shrimp pesto pasta which had a bit of a kick that I didn’t expect.  It was expensive and delicious!   



CHURCH: Via Youtube I was able to attend my home church, St. Thomas Episcopal in San Antonio.  I slept in a little this morning and decided to partake from home.  It was a wonderful change of pace. 

LETTERS FROM FRIENDS – A big shout out to Jennifer, Luke & Jack for sending me old fashion photographs of them which I can post on my mirror and see every day.  I love it

LADY LIBERTY – This past week I was able to go into the Pedestal of Liberty for some training.  There was so much I did NOT know.  Special Thanks to Ranger Kelsey for her wonderful interpretation and for being patient as I took notes and prepared my mind for answering the questions that will come while working inside.  One of my new assignments will be to rove inside the pedestal, answering questions, maintaining order, and helping folks to get the most of what they are seeing while inside.

The Pedestal base is the dark color. People can climb up 215 steps to walk around the top of the pedestal, just under Lady Liberty.








Inside the pedestal and the beginning of the journey’s climb.









The original torch as it now stands in the new museum.











LOTTERY NEWS – Well, I’m sure you all know we had a ‘billion’ dollar lottery this week and there was no way I was missing out on buying a $2 ticket.  Mega Millions lotto reached $1 Billion plus! I could NOT resist a purchase at this level?  For $2, I had to at least try. 

The adventure began with finding out where to buy a lottery ticket near me.  The rangers tell me you can buy them in convenience or ‘candy’ stores.  Now there are no convenience stores on 34th Street in my section of New York.  And so I ask the security guard where I live where to buy a ticket.  He tells me there is a ‘candy’ store a few blocks down on 9th Avenue.  A ‘candy’ store is where they sell cigarettes, periodical newspapers, and, of course, candy, and not sure what else exactly.  Not at all what I expected!

It is around 8:00 pm as I’m walking there on a Thursday evening and I notice there is one particular homeless man who is acting very strange.  He is clearly reacting to something he has taken or having an episode of some sort as his body is moving is these strange ways and he is looking for money, asking every one he sees.  I simply walk on by and make no eye contact with him although I know that he needs help (just not likely the kind he is looking for.). I walk past him and go one more block before walking in the ‘candy’ store.  It is a small cramped space, very narrow.  I ask if they have lottery tickets and they do and I purchase a $2 quick pick for the mega millions lottery.  Before he rings my purchase up he quickly moved around the counter to place himself in front of me and tells a man who just walked in to get out.  I look up and it’s the homeless guy.  He is pointing at me and saying “she will help me with money,” “give me the money”, etc.  The clerk tells him to get out again and stays firmly planted between us.  I’m not frightened and I’m not giving him money.  He continues pressing the issue that I will help him.  Finally, I look at him and with my stern Mom voice say “No, I won’t help you.”  He then turns and leaves.  The store clerk apologizes, completes my purchase and I leave.  I remained vigil on the way home to make certain our paths did not cross again.  He was nowhere in sight.  Now that was an interesting evening!  Just in case you wondered, no winning ticket for me.

Not much in the way of pictures this week.  Will try and do better next week!

Hugs and love coming your way,  Mara

Life continues despite the heat!

EMBARRASSING REALITIES – This week’s classic funny involves a trip to McDonald’s.  On my way to the subway one morning I notice a McDonald’s down the side street (8th Avenue), only a block off my regular path.   I thought about it that night and worked myself up for an Egg McMuffin the next morning.  I left a little earlier than usual and set out with enough time to make a side trip for that Egg McMuffin I’d been dreaming of.  I don’t like getting off my path for fear I’ll get lost but I wouldn’t be going far, what could possibly go wrong. 

I trot right into McDonald’s, go to the counter, and order a coffee and an Egg McMuffin.  The clerk responds with what size coffee, and I say “small”.  He then asks, “do you want the Egg White Muffin?” and that’s a new question for me but not wanting to be a bother (and always assuming I must have missed something) I say “sure.”  I kind of look around thinking this is a new style McDonalds but after all, it’s New York.  Things are different here and I’m focused on getting in, getting my treat, and getting back on my path.

As I’m waiting for my McMuffin I notice coffee is being delivered in Starbuck’s cups.  “When did McDonald’s start serving Starbucks coffee?”, I wonder to myself.   Then I get my Muffin and it is in a Starbuck’s bag.  Things start to come together, and I finally realize I’m not at McDonalds.  It’s one door down from Starbucks.  Ugh!  Now I know why the clerk looked so strange when I couldn’t get my McDonalds app to work to pay for my order.  I finally just paid in cash!  I know he was relieved to see me go . . ..

FOOD – New York food is wonderful.  A block from me is a bagel shop that is terrific.  Nothing like a fresh bagel and cream cheese on my way to the subway.  That’s going to be a good 10 pounds by the end of my time here!  I also had PIZZA this week.  A slice of deep-dish Stromboli . . . Oh so good and only $5.00.  And there’s a Whole Foods Market about 3 blocks from me that I’ve found to be wonderful on those days when you just want something fresh from their deli!

CHURCH: ST. JOHN THE DIVINE CATHEDRAL – This week I attended St. John the Divine in Upper Manhattan (112th & Amsterdam Avenue).  This church is the Episcopal cathedral church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Measured by length or internal volume, it is one of the five largest church buildings in the world.  Construction of the Cathedral began in 1892, making it over 125 years old.

The Sunday service was held in the Nave (with no air conditioning) to a small group of parishioners and visitors.  The Very Reverend Patrick Malloy and the Reverend Canon Victor Conrado greeted me outside on the steps as they had a slight breeze that was providing some relief from the heat.  We visited a bit and I learned that Rev. Malloy spent quite a few years teaching at Notre Dame and Rev Conrado’s wife was born in San Antonio.  The Conrado’s attended church at St. Thomas a couple years ago but missed meeting our St. Thomas rector, Father Mike Michie, who just happened to be away that Sunday.  Small world!  All in all, the cathedral was a beautiful setting and a beautiful ‘high church’ service. Despite the heat, I’m so glad I was able to see it and attend services there in person.

After church I took the opportunity to see Morningside Heights Park which also has an interesting history.  Also walked around to several of the green spaces renovated by the New York Restoration Project.  This non-profit organization has planted trees, renovated gardens, restored parks, and transformed open space for communities throughout New York City’s five boroughs.  It was founded in 1995 by Bette Midler when she returned to New York from Los Angeles and saw the horrific condition they were in.

After walking around for a couple hours, I went to the bus stop thinking I would return home via a bus so I could see more of the landscape.  I waited at the first bus stop for 30 minutes until a bus (not the one I needed) stopped and I asked about the bus I was waiting for.  She said it was not coming due to diversions and re-routings resulting from the New York Marathon.  I should move to another stop about 10 blocks away. 

I arrived at the second bus stop where several locals were waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting.  45 minutes later we learned no bus would arrive there either and we should move to another stop about one mile away.  Another choice was a 15-minute walk to the subway.  By this time, I am drenched in sweat and so hot (remember, the temp is upper 90’s and heat index is triple digits).  I opted to walk to the subway and made it but only after stopping for water and downing a 20-ounce bottle in practically one long drink!  Rode the subway back and then opted for a local bus to go the six blocks to my home.  I arrived about 3:30, had no voice (laryngitis found its way to me) and was asleep by 5pm.  I slept until 7 a.m. this morning (Monday) and thanked God it was my day off! 

LETTERS FROM FRIENDS –  A big shout out to Luke & Jack for their artwork and letters.  I so love getting these.  And to Katelyn and London for their letters, which made my day when they arrived this week.  And finally, to daughters Jennifer & Melissa who always surprise me with letters and gifts.  You are way to kind to your momma!

IT HAS BEEN A REALLY HOT WEEK – Well, the word to remember for this week is HYDRATE!  Just like most of the nation, New York has had its share of high temps and high heat indexes.  I started my week on Tuesday which was a day to remember at Liberty Island.  We had tons of visitors, the temps were in the upper 90’s, and the heat index was triple digits.  We had 7-8 medical emergencies and a very challenging day unlike any our seasoned rangers had seen in many years. 

To follow that, on Thursday we had storms with sighted tornados that never touched down (thank goodness) but the sky opened, and the rain came down in sheets!  Visitors were drenched but it was a moment’s relief from the heat for sure.  Unfortunately, the steam from the concrete when the rain stopped was a very  unwelcome side benefit. 

Then on my final day for the week, Saturday, it was a calm day until about 3:00 in the afternoon (I normally leave at 5:20 and the island closes at 5:30 with the final ferry leaving at 6:15) when we had one emergency after another.  In total were more than seven medical emergencies including a heart attack, heat stroke, dislocated knee, rolled ankles, etc.  And while that was happening, we also had someone place a lit cigarette into a trash can which started a small fire.  The island EMTs and Park Rangers were amazing.  Their expertise, reaction time, care and concern were exceptional.  We even needed someone fluent in Spanish and another in French . . . no problem, we have Rangers fluent in multiple languages.  The police boat was here and made multiple runs to take folks to the hospital.  It was so impressive to watch this team in action.  Kudos to each and every one of them. 

What a week!  Can’t wait to see what this week brings.  Be Safe all and remember to HYDRATE!  Hugs and love coming your way,


New York, New York! What an incredible city it is . . .

This past week was a busy one.  Work last week was high in visitor counts (averaging between 15,000-20,000 per day!). The days go by like a blur and before I know it my 5 day week has ended.  I met new rangers this week and got better acquainted with those I had met the week before.  With so many visitors your allotted time at each station is busy so there isn’t a lot of time to visit.  However, my lunch time changes each day and my lunch mates do as well.  I really want to commend this National Park on their teamwork and service to not just visitors but their work team as well.  It’s not perfect but they all work hard to do a great job of communicating and being respectful of each other.

On Saturday this week, I left work a little early so I could make it back to change and head out to the theatre.  I was able to get a lottery ticket to see TINA, the musical about Tina Turner.  Lottery ticket was $45 (greatly reduced from the $200+ ticket prices). 

The show started at 8pm but you were to be in line by 7:20 at the latest.  I rode the bus from 34th to 48th and then walked a few blocks to the theatre. On the bus I met a lady returning from “the beach” who works for Covenant House.  (for those of you who may not be familiar with them, Covenant House provides shelter, food, immediate crisis care, and other services to homeless and runaway youth). She gave me lots of input on the bus system and how best to utilize it.  Wish I had gotten her name.

Once I got off the bus I even had time to grab a hot dog with sauerkraut from a street vendor in Times Square which was a mere $5.00.  (The following day they were $3.00 in Union Square . . . hmmmmm. . . ) 

My seat for the musical was front row center . . . really!  I was so close it was hard to see anything well (except for their underwear!).   

TINA, the musical. My seat was second row center and no one sat in front row. A bit too close for me!

The lead was played by an understudy at the last minute.  Not sure if I was just tired, the understudy wasn’t great, or I was in shock over my drink price of $20 (ha!) but I left at intermission, quite happy for the experience.  Thought I would catch the bus home, but the darn thing drove right past me at the bus stop and didn’t look back!  Ended up walking home but it only took me about 20 minutes.    




I attended St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Chelsea on Sunday.  This is a historic congregation that was planted by the neighborhood residents, faculty and students who gathered at the General Theological Seminary for Sunday worship in the early 1800s. The land on which St. Peter’s stands was given by Clement Clarke Moore from his family estate.  The church was consecrated in 1838 and has stood as a resilient presence in the neighborhood, welcoming and serving the community ever since. I love these old churches.  The beauty in the woodworking astounds me.  The pew doors were absolutely fabulous.

St. Peter’s Episcopal, Chelsea. Notice the pews have doors that close and latch!
A better view of the altar.
Look at the organ room (or at least I. believe that is what that is . . . )
Their bulletin.








St. Peter’s is also known as “The Christmas Church” because Clement Clarke Moore was the author of A Visit From St. Nicholas (the world’s most famous Christmas poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. The poem was the first portrayal of Santa as the modern world knows him today.



I took time on Sunday after church to visit a couple bookstores.  The first was 192 Books in Chelsea. This bookstore, while small, had a great Children’s book section and I noticed a series I’d never heard of . . . The Vanderbeekers by Karina Yan Glaser.  If you know of children between 8-12 years, I think they would love this series.  Thank you, 192 books!  




The Vanderbeekers  author lives here in New York.








I also went to The Strand in Union Square.  They advertise they have 18 miles of books and I believe it.  They have everything from rare books to the newest releases.  I know I could spend a week in this store and never see it all.  They have three very full floors of books. 

The Strand Bookstore near Union Square.




And more as you come into the Strand.













Billy’s Bakery in Chelsea was another stop.  Cupcakes to die for!  I had a confetti cake with chocolate buttercream frosting.  I’m still dreaming of it.  So so good . . . and only $4.95.

I tried a confetti cake with chocolate buttercream frosting to go. It was delicious!






My dining (evening) exploration was Tavola Italian on Sunday evening.  It was very good, reasonably priced, and a quality evening.  Single patrons of one must set at the bar to save table space for couples and families.  I enjoyed a glass of Pinot Grigio  and an entrée of Spaghetti Pomodoro.  The food was superb!   And I didn’t eat alone . . . I had the added company of Bethany who came in a few minutes after me and a simple ‘hello’ got the conversation going.  She is in advertising, here from Iowa, was just married on New Year’s Eve 2021 and has two wonderful stepchildren.  Loved hearing about her story.  People really are so friendly if you just get them started!  I should have taken a picture of us!  Next time . . .

Dinner tonight at Tavola Italian. Food was incredibly good. Opted for a very expensive glass of house Pinot Grigio . . . $13.50.
Opted for spaghetti pomodora at Tavola ($18.95 for small bowl.). It was delicious though.









Today was my final day off and I managed to take care of laundry and do a little shopping at Target.  I’m looking forward to the coming week and learning even more about the people and works of this great city.

How do you like my Volunteer hat . . . that’s a San Antonio hat and all the volunteers love it.  










Talk to you next week!