Saturday, December 29, 2012


I'm cleaning out my emotional closet - so to speak - with these last few posts.
I'm writing small snippets about big things that are a negative force in my life, in the hopes that this will clear the way for more positive posts in the coming new year.  

I've made great progress, though most of it is psychological rather than physical during the past 9 months of my 13 month Healthy Lifestyle journey.

I've only lost 20 pounds... I was hoping I could say 25, because that would be halfway to my goal of losing 60 pounds, but 20 it is, and 20 it stays.

I have established regular physical activity a few times a week as a norm in my life.  This is up significantly from NO physical activity!

I've all but eliminated pop, diet or otherwise from my life, and from that of my family - which I consider a great achievement.

I understand the role that food logging plays when you are trying to lose weight.  I don't do it regularly, but it really helps when I do.

The combination of weight loss, eating better, healthier food and smaller portions, and increased exercise has greatly improved many of the things that were causing my physical pain.  My knees do not hurt anymore.  My joints ache sometimes, but much less than they used to.  My hot flashes and menopausal symptoms have eased quite a bit, and most of those I can trace back to over-drinking wine.  I haven't improved much on that, but I think I need to hang on to at least one vice to keep me human!

So what is so negative about that you ask?  Well, nothing.  It's just the counseling aspect of this program that has me grinding my teeth.

The three of us who are in this particular group meet every other week with a weight loss counselor.  I knew when I started this that I was by far the smallest one in the group, with the smallest amount of weight to lose - by at least 100 pounds. But I hadn't been able to do it on my own, so at first, I felt like I could fit in.  And I did, for a while.  But when the psychological issues they had from being heavy all their lives, started to come out, I started to sense a bit of resentment from them.

This all came to a head at one of our bi-monthly meetings, after I'd obligingly answered the usual question of "What were some of your wins since we last met?"  I'd expressed my usual frustration at how slowly I was losing, when the guy member of our trio snapped at me "What the hell is it you want? You're thin and fit, and healthy.  I'd give anything to be your weight, and you are not happy with it."  The girl member then said, "Yeah, I think  you've won already."  (like this was a competition or something).  I absolutely didn't know what to say or how to react.  The counselor asked how that made me feel, and I wanted to punch her in the throat. This was exactly what I told her I was afraid of when I had my initial session with her.  I wondered if I would be antagonistic, or demotivating to the others.  She assured me that I wouldn't.


Now, while I'm feeling good about the program, my progress, and the things I've learned - I'm totally uncomfortable and afraid to return to any of these group sessions.


I'm cleaning out my emotional closet - so to speak - on these last few days of 2012.
I'm writing small snippets about big things that are a negative force in my life, in the hopes that this will clear the way for more positive posts in the coming new year.  


[fam-uh-lee, fam-lee] noun
All those persons considered as descendants of a common progenitor

Lately, it seems popular opinion has come to consider family as our most important institution.

But think of your own family. You play several different roles within it, and each person in it plays several different roles.  Son, Father, Brother.  Daughter, Mother, Sister.  Etc. Etc. Etc.
You are, in effect, many separate people, in a relationship with many different people, all of whom have differing interpretations of how, or WHO the others are, or should be.

Even with rules, laws and institutions in place to keep things on track, this is potentially a recipe for disaster.

I found out last year around this time that my own lifelong supposedly unfounded sense of mistrust, and fears about my father, were in fact, founded.

I write this here and now, mostly as backstory, so that I can link to it someday when I'm ready to write more deeply.  

Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that my two older half sisters, daughters of my father and his first wife, twenty odd years older than my full sister and I, had been carrying a dark secret between them since before the two of us were born.  They chose the night after our Thanksgiving family reunion last year, once they had seen for themselves that our mother's Alzheimers had progressed to the point where she could no longer comprehend or communicate, to share this dark secret with us.

The funny thing is, that knowing as we do now, or not knowing as we did, just a few short minutes beforehand, really doesn't make any difference.  

I thought it would.  I was proven right all along about this man I never trusted, or respected. I was vindicated for all of the times I didn't show up for gatherings, or picked the company of my chosen family, my friends, over the ones who happened to be descendants of a common progenitor. 

But vindication, and the truth, as cleansing and freeing as they were, made absolutely no difference - that night, nor any night since then.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sharper than a serpent's tooth

I'm cleaning out my emotional closet - so to speak - these last few days of 2012.
I'm writing small snippets about big things that are a negative force in my life, in the hopes that this will clear the way for more positive posts in the coming new year.  

I thought by using a quote from Shakespeare as the title, that it would make this post seem more literary, but I am just going to have to face the fact that it is a rant - pure and simple.

The thing Shakespeare is comparing to a serpents tooth, is a thankless child.

We all can relate to that.  I'll freely admit that all three of my children have been thankless to some degree at varying intervals. But this is about my oldest child, who, at 30something, really only qualifies as a child in the genetic sense.

He has suffered with some form of anxiety, depression, insomnia or addiction for the past 10 years, and due to a recent series of setbacks, seems to be teetering on the edge of a scary dark place.  In the past, I've been able to reach him, and cajole, guilt, shove, drag him back into what I only know as normal life. I don't know what normal is to him any more.

He's been a server at an upscale restaurant for the past nine years, but it recently changed ownership and he quit.  He's drifted from server job to server job each one worse, and for less pay, over the last three months.  Now he's under employed, and underpaid and has had to borrow money from us every month.  He lives in a hovel of an apartment with a roommate that hates him. He gave in to a shopping addiction prior to the job changes and spent all of his savings, and he has no health insurance.  He's never been on any form of antidepressant, and believes that sadness and loneliness is his lot in life.

Now, I'm a fixer. I'm also an eternal optimist.  I admit that I don't understand depression, although I'm trying.  I'm also trying to fix him.  It is my opinion that if he could get on some kind of assistance program and get the right medication, it would be a step in the right direction.  But he won't apply for the assistance, he thinks it is "beneath" him.  He also won't go to a doctor or anyone who might be able to provide some relief in the form of counseling, or a prescription.

I also have a plan B.  If he could get a full time job with benefits, he wouldn't have to apply for assistance, and he could just get the help he needs through his own insurance. There happens to be a job opening at the hospital I work for.  Full time with benefits. Its even the hours he's used to -  late afternoon into the evening. But again, he refuses to apply for it.  He thinks if he moves to Seattle, where his dad lives that everything will be better.  Fresh start.

I can understand needing to start over, but realistically, it's a more expensive economy there, with higher unemployment than our tiny little burg.  I'm honestly afraid he will be homeless if he does that.

I'm at my wit's end.  I can't listen to him complain about being tired and hungry, and hating the abuse he gets from where he works and where he lives, without doing something to FIX IT! I know I'm pushing him farther away with my constant suggestions, and damn positive attitude. I also know I'm just about the only "friend" he has left.

Am I enabling him by loaning him money?  Am I making things worse by suggesting ways to make his life better?  Or am I not being forceful or tough enough?  Is this the point where an intervention is necessary? Should I just let him go?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Twitter NO!

So in case anyone is considering that whole "live Tweeting" thing. Let me just tell you it was a big bust.

There were a total of 22 tweets with my hashtag of #Linda55.  5 from some Spanish speaking chick wanting to be my BFF and 4 more from some Spanish speaking guy wearing a Santa suit. WTF?

The rest of the Tweets were between @MaxKringen and me mostly discussing whether or not @WilliamShatner would Tweet me a happy birthday wish. (He did not).

I much prefer either Blogging, if I have a lot of words to use to say something, or Facebook, if I have less words.  For the record, I hate trying to keep everything to 40 characters.

Twitter is for the birds, or the kids.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Perhaps, if the Mayans were right...

Perhaps, if the Mayans were right, in 15 days the world will come to an end.


The only thing I know for sure is that tomorrow is my birthday.

My Sammy Hagar* Birthday.
(*I originally and erroneously had Van Halen. Edit credit goes solely to Small Town Me for her distinct and loyal devotion to the Red Rocker)

I Can't Drive 55.

In honor of that, and in case the world does come crashing to a halt, I do NOT want to regret a single thing. So I am throwing caution to the wind this year.


Yup. Hashtag and everything.


If any of you kids do "The Twitter," you can follow along and everything @Lindalla!

There will be pictures, and jokes, and questions, and activities, and guest tweets, and trivia, with special tweets at 5:55 and 11:11 am and pm.

I'm not quite sure how all this is going to work, but I have full assurance from my digital pal and co-hort @MaxKringen that this will be fun!

I'm going to promote this here, and on Facebook, and of course Twitter, just like I'm some kind of celebrity or something. Please respond, or comment, 'cause if the world does come to an end in 15 days, c'mon, what do ya have to lose?

Monday, December 3, 2012

The one where I dream about a new kitchen....

About this time in 2005, after 3 months of incessant pleading cajoling, I had finally bamboozled  convinced Downtown Dad to move into the house we presently live in.

Yes, it WAS winter, and three weeks before Christmas.

No, we HADN'T sold the house we lived in at the time.

Why YES, my sister, her two children, and my wheelchair-bound mother were coming to visit for a week over the holiday.   ....why do you ask?

It was a great house - and I didn't want to let it get away.  While nobody in their right mind would have bought it anyway it was not decorated in the most current style, it has "good bones" as they say.  And  it has served us well, through that Christmas, and many others, as well as through our kids' teenage years with theatre parties, and graduation parties, and gatherings, and all manner of things that a house goes through. But it's beginning to show the wear and tear.

Downtown Dad and I decided that 2013 is the year that we give ourselves a little love. We're gonna start with the kitchen.

What follows are some "before" shots of the kitchen which is between what we call a "great room" and another tiny square room with a mirrored wall, that has little purpose, but is faced in such a way as to have the most lovely view of the sunrise in the morning.

The plan is to punch through to the square room, connecting it to the kitchen with a long island countertop.

Plans will change and evolve.  But I wanted to start with the befores, before anything started!

1980s fridge. I am tempted to paint it gold and bedazzle it with plastic jewels, then haul it to the curb and see who takes this treasure home. 

1980s dishwasher.  Hasn't worked since we moved in.

Ooooh look at all the nice wood!  See how it goes all the way to the ceiling!  ...Ugh.

You're looking into the "great room." It was added on by the original owner.  They apparently didn't know about insulation.  You can almost ice skate on the floor in the winter.  Yay.

Formica counter tops. I wish you could see them in all their undulating detail. 

1980s Jenn Air range oven with 4 electric burners. 1 works.  The oven  works really well on the right side, not so well on the left side. Oh, and that famous Air, of Jenn Air? Doesn't work.

Worst part of the layout of this kitchen. Awkward L shaped bump out.

Fun fact, we recently pulled down the green checked wall paper that used to cover these walls. Cool huh?

Look, there's Skimbleshanks, our kitty!

And we're back, full circle, to the fridge.  Let's move on into the square room with the heinous wall of mirrors shall we?

To your right, is where we want to blow out the wall and put an island counter, opening up into the weird little room you're about to see. 

This is to your left - the mirror wall - reflecting me.

Side note.  I love this wall.  The picture is a pencil drawing Downtown Dad drew himself of Tasha, his first Samoyed.  

This is looking into the living room beyond.

A slight turn to the right.

Further to the right.  A lovely view of my glass table and matching glass lamp.  Never could figure out what to do with that back wall.  That's the one we're going to blow out to the kitchen.

Looking toward the kitchen into the dreaded mirror wall.

Again, into the mirror.

This is a little dark, but looking from the soon to be blown out wall, into the living room.

That is all.  I hope you enjoyed my before tour.  This was also literally 10 minutes before the boxes of Christmas decorations came up from the basement!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Either you've got it or you don't

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I'm following along a path I've laid out, writing about topics that interest me.  Today's topic is probably my favorite - Customer Service - and as the title suggests, I would argue that either you've got it, or you don't, there is no in between.

I got all excited to write something inspirational about customer service. I thought about it all day, hoping something would dawn on me.  I searched all kinds of terms, and I found all kinds of new customer experience "thought leaders" to follow on Twitter, but nothing ever surfaced that didn't seem to be preaching to me.

The best thing that I found is what I will share with you - a link to a website with 11 great (and short) customer service stories.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Write. Then write some more.

OK, I failed Na-No-Wri-Mo.

Not only failed it.  I didn't even make it past the 2nd day!  But, for some reason the crazy optimist in me kept the NaNo banner on my Facebook page up... as if I could somehow....

I still want to write.  I still want to tell stories.

When I read something someone else has written and think to myself  "I could do better than that." The fact is, they've already done better than me, because they've written, and I haven't.

And still, storytelling calls to me...

But, I need structure. If not structure, at least a map. Lately, I've been trying to follow a list I've made of the things that interest me. I'm trying to focus each day on one of those topics and blog about it.  Today's topic to focus on was blog/writing. I happened to open what I thought was a spam email,

And I found Storylane

"Storylane works like a blogging platform but is social from the ground up. Your content can be categorized by you and then discovered by our fast growing community. Storylane can breathe new life into the content you created for your old blog and hopefully connect you with people, places, and ideas that can add value and meaning to your life."

OK, add meaning to my life?  I'm not sure I buy that.  But, I was intrigued enough to sign up. And, like the marketing piece on their writing page says:

"If the blank page excites you like nothing else, if you always turn a word twice around before putting it down, if you've ever re-written something twenty times, this is the place for you."

What the heck - it's a start.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Learning, and Inspiration Comes in Threes

Bill Clinton, Joe Thiesmann, and Abraham Lincoln.

An interesting trilogy.

On the surface, they don't have much in common.  A couple of former presidents, all famous, all very inspirational.

And I was lucky enough to meet all three within 30 days.

(OK, I know, Lincoln is dead, but through the magic and the teamwork of another unlikely and interesting trilogy, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Daniel Day Lewis and Steven Allan Spielberg, (since we're going with middle names here) - Lincoln has recently been resurrected.)

I met Bill Clinton at a rally here in North Dakota for Heidi Heitkamp. (OK, I didn't actually meet him. I was, however standing next to Downtown Dad, who did get a handshake and a fist bump as a result of my waving like a madwoman antics, so I think here, among friends I can say I met him.)

Clinton's speech was like a great concert.  He doesn't talk TO the audience, he talks WITH you. At a time when I was troubled by the great conflict between the two parties, point by point, he very respectfully and convincingly explained the opposing messages as only a former president with a deep understanding of policy and politics could. 

I met Joe Theismann at a Chamber of Commerce Luncheon called Voices of Vision. I honestly didn't want to go. All I knew was that this big lunk was a quarterback and he supplied me with the grossest moment I'd ever seen when his leg was broken on live TV. And I don't even watch sports, OK, I was watching THAT game in 1985 for some reason.  

This guy had my attention.  I'm pretty sure this is what they mean when people talk about "locker room speeches."  They are loud.  But in a good way.  Theismann's speech was like a rock concert. I was a little surprised that this jock knew so much about corporate politics. At a time when my department is in the midst of a reorganization, I found some real inspirational ideals to hold on to. In the end, I guess it really is all about teamwork. 

My meeting with Lincoln was a little different.  A little more personal.  It was in the telegraph office where he's about to send a message to General Grant. The setting of this scene is pitch perfect. Almost a metaphor in itself.  It opens with him sitting there, hat in hand, the two telegraph operators waiting for him to tell them what to transmit, -- leaning toward him -- as if to say "listen, something important is going to happen here!" 

Lincoln then muses half to himself and half to the boys about Euclid's theory of Equality.  He says things that are equal to the same thing are equal to each other. He says Euclid calls that a self evident truth. Then,  appearing to make a mental note about that he continues on about equality, and self evident truths. It's a beautiful scene.

These three men's ability to whittle down complex issues to one key principle, or a central idea, directly spoke to me, and inspired me this past month.  

What has inspired you?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Veggie Turkey Soup with Basil Ricotta Dumplings

With so many thanksgiving leftovers still lingering in the fridge, I was feeling the need for something that would bring them all together and this soup is just the ticket.

Light, yet comforting herb flecked ricotta dumplings distinguish this turkey soup from the thousands of others simmering on stoves across the country this weekend.

2 leftover turkey legs plus 2 cups leftover sliced turkey
2 leeks chopped
3 carrots chopped
1 onion chopped
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound green beans
1 can stewed tomatoes
Basil Ricotta Dumplings (recipe below)

In a large frying pan saute the leeks, carrots, onion and green beans in the olive oil until tender. Add the stewed tomatoes.

In a large soup pot pour together the stock and water, add to that the veggie mixture, the turkey legs, and the  sliced turkey.  Bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove meat from turkey legs, and discard bones.

Make the Dumplings

1 cup grated Parmeasan ceese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup flour
1 lightly beaten egg
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
liberal amount of ground pepper
salt to taste

Combine the cheeses, flour, egg, basil, salt and pepper until smooth, drop by heaping spoonfulls onto the simmering soup. Cover and cook about 6 to 8 minutes.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Halfway to Goal


I have now reached the halfway point in my 13 month Healthy Lifestyle weight loss program.  As you can see from the top line - I have officially almost lost 20 pounds.  And honestly, given the day, and time, and what I'm wearing... there have been days where I am actually down to 163 which is a full 20 pounds less than what I weighed at my highest ever point.

I also think there is a noticeable difference in my appearance.

It is important to me to point out that this has not been an easy journey.  I've ramped up my physical activity from practically nothing, to letting a personal trainer kick my ass for an hour twice a week.  I've changed my eating habits to include more vegetables than I ever thought possible.  I've realized that while I was never in the morbidly obese, or dangerously overweight zone, I did qualify for the Sanford program, which forced me to acknowledge that my BMI firmly put me in the Obese category.

And still, with all of this effort, it has taken me from the end of March to now in mid-September to achieve a 20 pound weight loss. The two other  people who are in my group have lost probably twice what I've lost.  Granted, they probably had twice what I have to lose.

But I couldn't seem to break that 10 pound loss threshold. No matter how much I worked out, no matter how much or how little I ate... I always hovered at the 175 mark.  My dietitian suggested that I increase the amount of vegetables I was eating.  That knocked my weight down a solid 2 to 3 pounds, but there it stayed.

Finally, the managing physician suggested that I try a medication that would help give my metabolism a "kick start."  I was all for it, I mean honestly, legitimate prescribed speed?  Yes please. I have to add that the dietitian cautioned me against it initially, saying that I needed to learn the proper nutritional balance before trying something like that. I backed off my enthusiasm, trying the increased vegetables prescribed. But once the increased veggie intake approach stalled, she agreed to my prescription.  OK, yes please again.

The prescribed Fentramine has taken me down a solid 5 pounds in two weeks. It does this, not by making me feel like a roller skate with a jet pack like the time in the 70s when my friends and I took "cross tops." But more like a triple shot of espresso.  It also just makes me not have an appetite.  I still eat my salads, veggies, lean protein, and drink water, I just don't want as much. It never occurred to me how strong hunger was in its ability to make us do things we know we shouldn't, until I realized how much of the day I didn't think about eating.

I will say that there are a few unpleasant side effects. 1) It gives me cotton mouth, which is easily taken care of by drinking enough water.  2) It makes my pee stink, and while no one has said anything, I feel like that same stink is oozing out of my pores.  3) In not being hungry, you can forget to eat, and thus skip the important veggie component.  Skipping veggies, can make you constipated, and that is not a condition conducive to losing weight.

Having said that, there has been one really good side effect.  I stopped taking my hormone replacement pills.  In fact, I've stopped taking all of the 7 or so supplements I was taking.  I'im guessing that this is more of a coincidence than a result of taking the pills.  But whatever the causation, my hot flashes, and the flashes of adrenalin that preceded each hot flash have stopped completely.

I'm still in the first phases of this, but let me add that I feel great!  My clothes fit better.  My knees and hips don't hurt.  I have lots of healthy energy.  That can't be bad right?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Family Portrait - Bloopers and Out Takes

We've all seen them, those impeccable family portraits.

Where everyone is not only looking in the same direction, but looking composed and not at all stressed.

In those portraits no one has their hand in their pants, or is picking their nose, or their brother's nose.
In those portraits no one farts,
or smells a fart,
or tries to smile through watering eyes
or denies having been the perpetrator of the fart.

Those quintessential photos seem as if the family is enjoying a typically candid moment, no one is killing anyone, but instead, relaxing in perfect harmony.

Having recently survived this hellish ritual been through this experience, I have to say that photographers, (ours at least) should be a spokesperson for Zoloft nominated for sainthood! And while out of 260 frames taken over the span of 3 hours, we were able to agree on at least a couple that would be suitable for framing or for a Christmas card, I have to admit that there were a whole lot more that were much more representative of my REAL family.

In order for you to be able to achieve the same success that we have had in this endeavor, I will pass along some tips that worked for us in taking the perfect family portrait.

1.  I've always heard it said that when being photographed with pets children young adults convicts, the responsible parties boring people adults ones who are paying should always smile, no matter what is being broken who is being killed what is going on around them. This way the photographer can capture the kids' angelic smiles as they happen. Also you have the added benefit of looking slightly daft.

2.  Think about your family members and their personalities... then devise a portrait theme that will allow their individuality to shine.  After you've chosen the theme, the rest of your decisions become easier.... It is also said that in every family, "there's always one."  I'd be interested to know if anyone could guess from looking at our family who that one is... I bet it would be difficult...

3.  Shoot outdoors, natural light is most flattering.  Late afternoon also works for adding warmth to your photos... unless that warmth is upwards of 100 degrees, and your photographer runs the risk of 3rd degree burns on his torso from laying on his belly to get a shot of you by the pool. Also, always keep your iPhone in your pocket, so you can have a reason other than your hair and clothes for your kids to NOT to push you in the pool.

4.  Try having the kids sing a family favorite song, so that your mouths are open or closed at the same time, and you all appear to be happy and having a good time...

I would not suggest Ozzy Osbourne's Crazy Train for that song.

5.  Have cash, and a stiff drink ready for the photographer and yourselves once it is all over.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sanford Spectactular

It occurs to me that as I speak of my employer, sometimes I may exude an acerbic, or cynical air - let me say right now that is not the case.  We (and by we I mean 60,000 of my closest friends) are just coming off of the biggest group hug ever experienced from a giant corporate conglomerate.  And I say corporate conglomerate in the nicest and most loving way possible.

Every year at the end of July, Sanford Health  throws itself a splashy hoop de doo which accomplishes many things. First and foremost, it reminds the employees that we are absolutely valued, and two - it proves to our ever growing list of communities that Sanford is a pretty darn cool place to work!

This year, we were treated to company-wide picnics, slick videos spotlighting our cool-itude, tee shirts, appreciation promotions, and best of all, two free concerts by Train.  During all of this, we broke ground for a brand new medical center here in Fargo, beginning the largest construction project in the Dakotas! Scroll down to the bottom of the page on that last link - go ahead, I'll wait.... its a pretty cool live webcam that will show the progress on this construction project. That's also where we held the Train concert for 15,000 employees and their families!

Seriously, after coming off of 5 years of playing at being a Realtor; a year of being employed by a local yokel  wannabe giant conglomerate, then being laid off because they'd over inflated themselves; 6 months of unemployment; and 2 years of blissful, but meagerly paid employment with our local symphony; I still can't believe my good fortune of being a part of this great and growing company!

I hope you'll pardon this flagrantly public display of affection for my employer, but apparently their tactics have worked.  I feel appreciated, energized, and extremely grateful to be a part of the Sanford family!  Seriously, who wouldn't?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

NYC Day 2 and 3

After the mad-rush of our trip into NYC, we did get a couple of hours to relax and try to take in the magnitude of the city and the opulence of our Trump Soho hotel room.

From the personalized welcome on all four phones - two of them in the bathrooms,

To the his and hers robes,

To the amazing view of Upper Manhattan from our corner window... Everything, "creates the sense that every guest is a VIP"... or so says the Trump promise, framed prominently on the leather appointed desk.

The other thing prominently displayed is the Minibar menu...

Seriously?! $95 for a SMALL bottle of vodka?  Sheesh!

But New York is not made for rest and relaxation, or frugality! 

The next morning we took the first of our scary cab ride, and $20 dollars later, we were delivered to Rockefeller Plaza.  

The cab ride, in comparison, turned out to be pretty tame, when we found ourselves in an elevator, being rocketed up 76 floors in 38 seconds!  

If you don't know, (I didn't know this) the 30 Rock building is what was being built in that picture of the construction workers eating lunch on the girder. For only $29.99, the friendly guides are happy to let you recreate that...

We then ventured outside, and were treated to a view that in my opinion is better than that from the top of the Empire State building.  You can see practically all of NYC from there.

And if you're curious as to what you're looking at - there's an ap for that.

From there, we moved on toward The Museum of Natural History. We decided to get there via Central Park, which was beautiful, but I really had to use the restroom, and wondered how I was going to find one.  

Well, if you're curious - there's an ap for that too.

And, finally, after walking several miles of trails in Central Park, in 95 degree heat, we arrived at The Museum of Natural History.  I'm not sure, but I will venture to guess that Kelsie expected to find this

What we actually found was this

But it was cool inside.  We wandered around, only getting separated and lost twice, until it was time to head back to the hotel to refresh and get ready to go to the Gershwin Theatre to see WICKED!

While we were getting ready, Downtown Dad, ever ready with his camera phone, caught this of fellow Trump Soho guest, Carlos Santana, as he was leaving for a gig somewhere in the city...

We decided to take the subway uptown to Wicked, it was cheaper, and faster!  As for seeing Wicked on Broadway - It was Amazing!  From our first glimpse of the stage, which was an awesome confection of steampunk, all through the show, not only was the company from the two leads down to the smallest flying monkey, spot on and perfect in their acting, dancing and songs, but the stagecraft and set itself became a stellar character as well.

The next morning, we took the Staten Island Ferry round trip for a pretty close look at the Statue of Liberty, with no lines and for free!

We actually got much closer than this picture would imply.  It was also very cool to stand on the deck and listen to many languages besides English excitedly talk about this national icon.

I was anxious to get home, back to normal. While I truly enjoyed the lavishness of our surroundings, you just never knew what was going to happen next...

As we left the hotel for a quick lunch, before heading out to the airport, we ran into Carlos again.