Monthly Archives: December 2005

Bennetch family Christmas™ collage

A photoset of our Christmas is here.

(If you’re on dial-up, you probably hate me and all the pictures that are slooooowly loading on my website — but I’m an unabashed picture fanatic when it comes to Kodiac-moments with the fam.)

New York Botanical Gardens


New York Botanical Gardens, originally uploaded by becky b..

Day Two of our NY trip was spent at the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx.

There’s a photo set of the day here.

(mis)Adventuring, part deux

After seeing off my folks and sis/bro-in-law en route to home, the three of us started out on our trek in the big city. Tim gave us a nifty pop-up map of Manhattan and the subway systems, so we found ourselves a quiet corner of Grand Central and plotted out our next stop: Rockefeller Center.

Who can go to New York City at Christmastime and not check out the massive tree? Besides, my mom really wanted to get a family shot of us there, and since she couldn’t make it, I was determined to see and document it for her.

What was weird about our visit to NYC is that I had seen so many images and television shows/movies about the city, that it felt like dejavu when I was finally able to see the city in person.

The same was true about the Center itself — though the ice skating rink in front of the tree is a lot smaller in person than it appears on TV or in films. And of course, there were massive amounts of people posing for smiling holiday pictures — including, us.

From Rockefeller Center, we walked up and down 5th Avenue, checking out the window displays and walking by Trump Tower. One thing that was interesting was seeing St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the midst of all the skyscrapers and shops. We went inside of it, briefly, but decided against staying for the noon Mass — though it was tempting.

We continued our trek downtown, and stopped in at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (or, MoMA). My sister had scored us some free tickets inside, so we were able to check out some pretty random pieces of modern “art” along with some amazing masterpieces of Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, and Pollock. Being inside the peaceful museum was a bit of a respite from the bustle of the rest of the city. The gallery itself is 6 floors big, but we mainly spent our time exploring the third and fourth floors — though we briefly visited all six.

From the MoMA, it was off to Central Park. I had no idea how big this park really was — it’s so big that if you walk far enough, you forget that there’s a huge city surrounding it. We saw the horses and carriages that cost a small fortune per ride, and decided to have a New-Yorkish lunch in the park — Hot dogs from a stand!

While we were eating our tubular cuisine, Andy inadvertently made a new four-legged friend. The dog’s owner was busy doing something else, and the dog decided to snuggle up to Andy and watch him eat his lunch. It was hilarious, and I think the picture captures the moment quite well — the two of them even have the same expression!

In the park, we saw the Bethesda fountain made famous by the mini-series Angels in America and we checked out the Lennon memorial over in Strawberry Fields. I loved being in Central Park — and I think I needed this quick break from the city into nature. The park itself is clean, and quite beautiful in some spaces. I bet it’s even more prettier when the trees still have leaves on them.

After wandering in the park for an hour or two, we caught the subway again and headed down to Chinatown. This is the part of the trip where we really started to experience New York City. The sidewalks were intensely crowded, and I was surrounded by open-air markets of produce, seafood, and unrecognizable meats. Every two steps someone would come up to me and whisper: “You want Prada? Coach?” and would wait for my answer (though I walked by, in traditional New York fashion, as if I didn’t hear them). Andy bought us some “Chinese cakes” from a vendor, which tasted like a combination of fortune cookies and pancakes.

We must have walked down 20 something blocks, looking for the Mahayana Buddhist Temple — which was, of course, at the very end of Chinatown. We finally made it into the temple, and I was pleased to see that we were in a very non-touristy (and peaceful) place. Again, another nice rest-break from the busyness of the city. I found a pretty tiger’s eye bracelet in the shop, and Jerry bought it for me, as my own special souvenir of the trip.

After our Chinatown visit, we walked down to the financial district, and saw the City Hall, the Brooklyn Bridge and Ground Zero. I wasn’t as moved when I saw Ground Zero — mainly because they had all these commericalized signs of what they’re going to be building in its place, and the crowds didn’t seem to note that this is a place any different from its surroundings. Part of me was glad that the city is moving on — it’s good to mourn and remember, but it’s even better to pick up and move forward.

By this time, we are pretty tired. My brother had to work that night, so we went over to his apartment in Brooklyn to hang out before his shift. I think my brother is the only English-speaking person in his neighborhood. I thought I experienced New York City in Chinatown, but once I saw his neighborhood in Brooklyn, I knew I was deep in NYC. While I never really felt unsafe, I was surrounded by all sorts of loud noises and people while walking to his small apartment. We had supper at Tony’s — a walk-up Italian restaurant.

After eating, we took the subway again (we’re now quite comfortable finding our way around, thankyouverymuch) and headed off to the bar where my brother works in West Chelsea. What a different world! To go from Brooklyn to West Chelsea feels like stepping into a different city altogether. We loved meeting Andy’s coworkers, and liked even better some of the drinks they made for us!

Finally it was time to start our trek back home to Tuckahoe. We said our goodbyes, and worked our way back to Grand Central — stopping to check out the lit-up Times Square at night. En route to the subway, we were crossing a street where we almost saw a taxicab driver hit a woman, dog, and man crossing the street (under a walk light!). It wasn’t until we passed them that we saw the woman was blind, and the dog was her seeing-eye dog. Gotta love those taxicab drivers.

It was one whirlwind day where we probably did three day’s worth of touring in one. We’re hoping to go back later this year to see my sister and have a longer time checking out the sights.

While I loved visiting New York City, I don’t think I could ever live there — but it’s a place everyone should experience at least once in their lives.

(More pictures of the day are here)

(Mis)adventures in the Big Apple

It’s hard to believe that a week ago today I was in my sister’s apartment, outside of New York City. We had just fully “experienced” the New Jersey Turnpike and the George Washington Bridge, in rush hour traffic, by driving my parents’ old minivan. (Jerry gets big-time husband points for surviving this ordeal, especially in his first visit to my home country!)

At about this time last week, the four of us (me, Jerry, Suz, and her hubby Tim) were staying up late, catching up and watching It’s a Wonderful Life. Jerry had never seen the movie before, and Christmas films are an inevitable part of the Bennetch family Christmas™.

After only a few hours sleep, on Friday morning we headed out to the city for our first adventure. My sister lives in Tuckahoe, NY — a really cute suburb of the city, just outside the Bronx. We all (me, Jerry, Suz/Tim, and my mom/dad) headed out to the train station to catch the commuter train to Grand Central. On the way to the train, we caught our first sight/smell of New York. Of course, I had to document the occasion — there’s Jerry pointing out the pile of vomit in the train tunnel.

Our ride out to the city was fairly uneventful. We finally got to Grand Central Station — and wow, is that ever a beautiful building! I wanted so much to look like a native New Yorker, and not gawk too much at my surroundings, but it’s impossible when you’re first taking in that building.

While the building itself houses many busy people rushing past you on their way to somewhere — there are also moments of serene beauty that make the rushing world pause. I tried to capture some of this on film, but it just doesn’t do it justice.

In the train station, we finally met up with my little brother, Andy, who I haven’t seen in a couple of years. We still keep in touch via the Internet, but that just doesn’t replace personal contact. He’s grown up a lot in the last two years of living on his own — he’s now in Brooklyn, working at a trendy bar in the Chelsea district. Being the caring brother that he is, he took the time out to show Jerry and me how to aggressively walk among the crowds and not be bowled over by fellow pedestrians.

From the train station, it was off to catch our first subway! We opted for an all-day Metro card, one gave us 24 hours of access to the freshly-running subway systems. It was hard to believe that these mammoth people movers were silent for a few days before our arrival — and if they were still on strike last week, I’m sure we couldn’t have gotten nearly all the things accomplished that we did.

First stop: Times Square.

Another jaw-dropper in all of its commercialized glory. We checked out the skylines, the steaming Cup O’Noodles (that replaced the Marlboro smoking man), and a few of the shops — including the massively crowded Toys R’ Us.

Yet by this time, my mom started feeling really out of sorts. She was afraid that a day full of massive touring would be too much for her system, so she — along with my dad, Suzy, and Tim — headed back for home, and to get her to a doctor for a check up. She insisted that Jerry and I stay with my brother to explore the city. While it wasn’t easy to let her go on without us, we stayed in constant contact throughout the day — and it turned out she had some type of virus that slowed her down. Thankfully, it wasn’t anything serious.

So that left Jerry, me, and my brother out by ourselves in the big city. My sister and her husband are THE perennial tour guides — so we were a little daunted by the idea of being left to our own purposes. But, Tim left us a handy pop-out NYC map, complete with a detailed map of Manhattan and the subway system — so we set off.

Timidly.

(tune in for part II, sometime tomorrow)

Pictures of the trip are here.

Pimp my nutcracker

That’s one bad mother….hush your mouth.

A grammar lesson for the CBC

When you mention anything regarding the hospital, make sure you use the definite article!!!

I’m so tired of hearing “so-and-so was checked into hospital” — it’s “the hospital.” (has anyone else noticed this? I can’t be the only person in Canada alone in my annoyance.)

Angsty exhausted girl out.

EDIT: Okay, I forgive you, CBC — only because you’re playing Breakfast at Tiffany’s right now. Sigh, I can’t stay angry long.

Be it ever so humble…

We’re home again! Home as in Saskatoon, though I think part of me may still be back in the States.

Theoretically, we were supposed to be back on the 27th — but due to some airport woes, we were bumped and put on the next day’s flight. Let’s just say I’ll be writing a letter to Northwest Airlines in the very NEAR future.

We got to the airport yesterday with plenty of time — and then we were told it was going to cost us the price of 2 new fares to board the plane (about $2600!). It was at this point I nearly lost it. Thankfully that was all eventually straightened out, and the rest of the trip was blissfully uneventful. We even ran into some friends at the Minneapolis airport.

It’s funny getting used to being “home” and then having to get used to being “home” once more. I realized on the plane ride over, that Jerry and I will always be divided (in some way) no matter what country we live in. I don’t see us staying in Canada forever, nor do I see us making the States our final destination, either. All of this means that wherever we live in North America, one of us will have to negotiate homesickness for their country and family left behind, along with adjusting to life wherever we are at.

Sobering thoughts for a holiday, I guess. (I’ll be writing about our NY and VA experiences later today, hopefully. I don’t want my holidays to end on this type of note!)