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