Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn Heights’

Another travel story from years ago.

We were in Brooklyn Heights for a New Year’s party at my cousin’s beautiful brownstone. Was a great night. One of my aunts was over from Ireland with her husband, daughter and son-in-law. Lots of laughter and good cheer. My Dad and his sister able to catch up with each other.

Walter singing “Colcannon” and others belting out “That’s Amore”, twinkling lights in the backyard garden with bottles chilling in mounds of snow.

Had an early flight in the morning so my girls and I left the gathering shortly after midnight.

Next morning. On the plane and seated behind a father and his two boys. Not toddlers but not teenagers either.

Their mother was on other side of the aisle-one row up from them.

She kept turning back and smiling at me. Not sure why.

Dad had the aisle seat with one boy in the middle. Other child had the window.

The fun started when they kept poking at each other, wrestling, kicking, etc.

Dad was ineffective with his half-hearted attempts to put it to a stop. So the seats kept banging and moving in front of us.

I am not a confrontational person. But felt like I had to say something.

Plenty of folks don’t want anyone giving them advice. Sensitive territory. I get that. I’m a parent.

So I thought about how I could stop the seats and our tray tables from shaking. Without getting into a fight.

When the Mom turned to smile at me (yet again) I seized the opportunity. I leaned in and quietly said to her, “My brothers and I were the same when we were young.”

Okay, that was a big fat lie. My parents would never have put up with that sort of nonsense.

I continued, “Know what my parents would do? They’d separate us. And put a parent in between each kid.”

There is a shred of truth to this. Sunday Mass. Bored kids. You get the picture. One poke (just one poke) at each other and the seating arrangements quickly shifted in our pew. Kid, parent, kid, parent, kid.

It was a rare occurrence but it was the only thing I could come up with to demonstrate understanding.

She said, “They’re tired. They were up late last night for New Year’s.”

I said, “Totally understand.”

While thinking, “So were we!”

Anyway, she actually took my advice. Had her husband sit between the boys.

Lo’ and behold, a miracle occurred!

The kids never moved a muscle the rest of the plane ride.

My kids and I were finally able to relax.

Weird thing is that the woman never smiled at me again. Not sure why.



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Annie and I were in New York a little more than a week ago. Had a blast.

I always use the term “happened upon.” As in,”I just happened upon it.” Usually describing something good. Not black trash bags found in the woods.

My friend said to me the other day, “Only you, Mare. Only you.” After I told her about a recent exploit. But I don’t think it’s only me.

I think sometimes my curious nature might get me off the beaten path. But I also think that can happen to anyone.  And it can result in unexpected pleasure.

Obviously, we all have our own definition of unexpected pleasure and surprise. I have just found that some of the most memorable moments are the unplanned ones. Not all. Because I certainly have many memories of planned events that are wonderful. But unexpected is always fun.

We “happened upon” a movie set in Brooklyn Heights. As a result we (Annie, my cousin and I) were asked to be extras in a park scene. That was cool. But even cooler was seeing Robert De Niro sitting in a chair talking on a mobile phone. The film is a comedy called, “The Intern” and stars Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway.



Another cousin and I were driving in upstate New York four days later and “happened upon” a farm. I had been wanting to take the perfect red barn photo since upstate is loaded with them. Just as we were leaving to head back to NYC there it was. The perfect shot! With a spot to pull the car in without stopping on the side of the road. I whipped the rental onto the unpaved drive. Even though we were on a very tight schedule.

No one was around. Even better. Take a few shots of the cows and the red barns and off we go. No one’s the wiser.

But then behind a big piece of John Deere machinery three men emerge. Oh, shoot! I am thinking, “We’re trespassing and could get shot.” Then I am thinking that there are three men and two of us (no one else around for miles) and maybe we will never be seen again. Sorry to all the men out there for that being one of my thoughts.

My cousin tells them we only wanted to take a photo of the cows and beautiful landscape. Next thing you know we are heading toward his barn. That was in the process of being white washed. He said, “You know? Like Tom Sawyer?” He said it was a mess as a result of the whitewashing but still brought us to the see the three seven week old calves in the barn.

I learned plenty in that short visit. Could have talked for hours. This guy running the farm was so wonderful. He was intelligent and gracious. Answering all of our questions.

He showed us the cows that were bred and waiting for the birth of their little ones.

I asked why the black and white one on the hill had horns and none of the others did. He said that they all had horns. But they burned them off.

I asked why they would do that. He said that if they didn’t the cows would beat the heck out of each other. They have a “pecking order” also. Just like humans. Somebody’s gotta be the boss. I just wouldn’t have thought that each cow had its own spot.

It was a dairy farm. We asked about the surrounding fields of corn, hay, and vegetables in the area. Where did it all go? He said no veggies and the corn and hay fields were just for the cows.

His farm provided milk for the bottles my cousin bought hours away in Brooklyn Heights.

We talked about prices. And he said his milk would be going organic the next day. Good for him.

We asked him about the current owners of all of these farms. Were they of Dutch descent? Since a lot of the towns upstate have Dutch names.  Amsterdam, Guilderland, Rotterdam, etc.

He said that wasn’t the case. His grandfather purchased the farm about 70 years ago from a fellow who hailed from Connecticut. The grandfather was from the Bronx. When war broke out his grandfather only had one son so he kept him on the farm and was allowed an agricultural deferment.

I asked about his background. Was he also old Yankee? (this term refers to people who are descendants of English settlers that have lived in New England for generations) Nope, his father’s side was Italian and his mother’s side was Yugoslavian.

We shared family stories and I would have loved to chat all day. But we had a rental car to return.




Now, maybe a farm won’t do it for you. Or a movie set. But you never know what you will happen upon if you take a little detour.






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