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!







Moving on to Week Two!

This past week was my first FULL week of work at Liberty Island.  Tuesday, July 5 through Saturday, July 9 found my routine much more settled and I was much more in sync with the city and my travels.  Each day the schedule changes and your order of stations is never the same.  This uniqueness keeps energy levels high and the days go by so fast!

By Friday this past week I was settled in to the routine and my travel to and from Liberty Island gets easier each day.  There will be more stories in the weeks to come I’m sure.  For now, I’m just pleased to be finding my groove.  

Thought you might like some pictures of the Ferries.  First we have the New Jersey Ferry arriving from Liberty State Park.  Each Ferry can carry approximately 800 passengers each.  The Ferries operate approximately every 30 minutes!  That’s a lot of people being moved.

The New Jersey Ferry



The New York Ferry
Rolling up to the Dock

I did some fun things this past weekend on my days off. My friends, Skip & Ginny Thomas, who live in New Jersey came to have lunch and visit. Ginny’s father was a New Jersey police officer and she knows the area well. They rode here on the train and spent the afternoon. It was such a treat! We had lunch and then walked to areas I had not seen before. We visited the Moynihan Train Hall where the New York trains run. It’s a beautiful hall and houses Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road. It has been a visionary project – a generation in the making – Moynihan Train Hall is the city’s newest grand civic icon. The $1.6 billion project transforms the 100+ year-old James A. Farley Post Office Building into a modern, world-class transit hub – an idea first proposed by the late United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan more than a quarter-century ago. So beautiful and so interesting. We didn’t quite make it to the Chelsea Market but I ended up going there today. Lots of arts and craft markets, clothing shops, and eateries. Had the best fish tacos ever for lunch. Thanks Skip & Ginny for making my weekend!

A few random pictures below to keep you abreast of family stuff!

7th from the left is Michaela Jenkins (Melissa’s youngest)
Skiing time for Michaela and Thomas in Michigan. Fifth pair from the left is Thomas Jenkins (Melissa’s middle son) and his sister Alexandra.
Family picture of Jennifer & Ceasar and all the kids. From L to R Maya, Reid, Jack, Jennifer, Ceasar, Jack, and Marisol.

Remember to keep me up to date with your life and happenings. You can email me at anytime. I’d love hearing from you. Take care and stay safe!

My first week is in the books.

June 28, 2022, Day 1:  18,876 + steps.  –   I thought I was a pretty good walker . . . but walking in NYC takes on new meanings, especially if you are unsure of where you are going!  (Did I mention I suffer from Topographical Disoriention . . . more about that later!) My first day here included a trip to the the main Metro office for my senior metro card.  I also thought I would learn about the available mass transport in the city from them.  Well, I did get my senior metro card but the ‘learning’ part was up to me!  They provided a metro map and off I went.

New Shoes – I’m going bold!

June 29, 2022, Day 2:  13,215+ steps.  –   Today was my first meeting with the Park Service and orientation.  I took the subway, I walked (mostly in the wrong direction)  – and I met several of the park rangers.  A good day and a full one.  I start work tomorrow!




June 30, 2022 – Day 3:  13,215+ steps.  –  Today was my first day on Liberty Island to work.  I got up early and left around 7:00 a.m.  Rode the subway to South Ferry, picked up the Ferry to Liberty Island and was ready for work by 9:00 a.m.  Left the Island at 5:20 and walked into my apartment at 7:15.  I had a few challenges getting back.

The New Jersey Skyline. That’s Ellis Island in front of the skyline.






New York Skyline












The white structure is the ferry screening building











July 1, 2022, Day 4:  9,670+ steps.  –  Today is Friday and I have my second full day at the Island.  We move locations every hour.  Stations are located at the Dock, greeting people and answering questions, the Museum Information Desk, The Theatre Line, The Torch Gallery (where the originally Liberty Torch is on display), The Pedestal tour screening line and the Elevator inside Liberty.  I have not done these last two stations yet but hopefully will do so in another few weeks.  

July 2, 2022, Day 5:  9,708+ steps.  – Saturday and my last working day for the week.  The day went quickly and work was busy.  Visitors are arriving to celebrate 4th of July in New York.  I managed my assignments well while making many new acquaintances.  All the rangers have been helpful and encouraging.  I felt like a member of the team from the very beginning.  Coming home I got a little turned around getting to the subway and exiting the subway.  I was so tired I plunged head first into bed and didn’t get up until Sunday morning.  I have 2 days off (Sunday & Monday) and will get lots of rest and be ready for next week!

July 3-4, 2022:  My days off!   Having slept off and on most of Sunday I didn’t see much.  I did Laundry in our provided laundry rooms which were really nice.  


Laundry Room Washer and Dryer







Dryer (there are more than one) and an ironing board comes in handy.








I thought a lot about my week and how very lucky I am to be able to do this adventure.  Lots of family support and encouragement help me on these adventures and I am most appreciative of each one of them.

There are always challenges, of course,  but mostly they were directional challenges these last few days.  In theory, directions are clear and everything is marked well here in NYC.  I have my phone with maps apps and I dial up where I am going every time.  However, the reality is when you combine actual “feet on the street” with someone who does not have an intuitive sense of direction at all (Topograhical Disorientation), it can become a challenge.  I’ve never been able to identify North, South, East or West in new locations.  I’ve also never had an automatic sense of left and right.  If I’m thinking left I often point right.  Plus, I’ve always had a strong desire to travel in an opposing direction.  These are just challenges, not failures.  However, coming out of a subway in a different place each day can pose issues.  Exiting the subway isn’t a one-way street.  There are many exits, all leading in different directions.  For someone such as I, they can pose a challenge that includes a lot of corrections and many extra steps.  

The good news is that I now have a better sense of where I am directionally thanks to practice and some great tips from a local police officer who works as an EMT with the Park Service.  She made my day with some simple instructions.  In Manhattan, if you are on a numbered avenue and the numbers are going down you are heading East.  If they are going up, you are going West.  On Streets, if the numbers are going down, you are heading south, going up you are heading north!  Great insight (and one that I can remember and use.)

My days off are Sunday and Monday.  Theoretically, I’ll have Sunday to go to church and Sunday afternoon and Monday to explore.  This Sunday though I hardly moved and Monday wasn’t much different.  I did walk to Hell’s Kitchen and Times Square on Monday and put my name in the lottery for broadway shows.  I’ll keep you posted on that front as the weeks go by.

A walk through Hell’s Kitchen.







Hell’s Kitchen Deli







I ended my July 4 sitting in my room watching the local Fireworks.  I’m sure many of you watched them as well.  The live event was not too too far from me but I opted out of going alone knowing it was night and I would not be back to my room until close to midnight.  So I listened to the chatter of folks outside and watched online in the comfort of my room.

Till next time . . . stay well and be safe.  Hugs from New York.


Arrival in New York City

Tuesday, June 28:  Suitcases packed and headed to airport.  My flight left San Antonio at 5:30 a.m.  I hardly slept the night before I was so excited (and nervous too!). Just me and my carry-on . . .

Me and my carry-on







I arrived in New York around 2pm local time after a few hour layover at Chicago Midway airport.  This was the sign out my airplane window as we taxied upon arrival at LaGuardia.

Welcome to New York!














Then it was off to baggage claim to pick up my suitcases and on to the taxi stand to head to my new home for the next few months.  The picture below shows you the front of the taxi line. 

There are a lot of us in the taxi queue.

     What you can’t see (or hear) is the slight little woman yelling directions to all to move here and move there.  She was quite the director. 

     I was so captivated by her yelling I didn’t realize she was pointing at me until she yelled louder for me to move. 

     Well, I moved then. . .  following her out in the middle of the street and 6 taxis down where she pointed at a car and told me to get in. 


As I was moving my luggage back over to the side of the curb she yelled again, and I thought it was at me.  I looked over, tripped over my suitcase, and did a face plant on the passenger side of the taxi.  Fortunately I landed on top of my suitcase so no damage done.


The taxi driver, a sweet older man, came around the side of the cab asking where I went and what was I doing.  By that time, I was up and casually said “oh nothing, just taking it all in sir”.  Only I can show my true style so quickly!

My taxi driver








I did not get his name, but he’s been driving for 45 years, and is now pushing 70 years old.  He has no plans to retire and says he works a full day (7am to 8pm) and then takes a day off so he can keep up with his wife’s “honey-do” list!  I arrived safe and sound and was well entertained along the way.

My New Home

The Webster Apartments will be my home for the next three (3) months.  It’s a beautiful old building and serves as a women only residence.  Because the building has been sold (and everyone must be moved out by December 31, 2022), they are only taking females doing temporary internships, college classes, or special work assignments.  However, prior to the sale, some of the residents have lived here for as long as 3-5 years.  One lady I met has been here 4 years and she really does not want to leave.  She works in Manhattan and says it is all the space she needs.  She’s a native and advised me the true natives of New York do not need much space as they spend little time inside.

I even have my own sink.

By the way, the phone on the wall does not work!  Lol.


Small but so adequate!







That’s it for arrival and my new home.  Tomorrow I will be up and exploring.  I’m going to the Metro office to get my senior Metro pass.  Yeah me! And boy do I have more stories to tell.  

Have a great evening and I’ll share more about my experiences in the next post. Here’s a teaser – Day #2 included walking over 19,000 steps!