Sunday, February 06, 2011

Sterling Notes Moves (back) to California

Although Sterling Notes originated in Brooklyn, I will now continue blogging from.....drum roll please....the San Francisco Bay Area. Some of you heard the rumor that we moved back here, so allow me to confirm it.

This native New Yorker is feeling very sad and forlorn to be so far away from home (again! after 13 years in the Bay Area originally and only 6 back in NYC). However, upon seeing the weather reports day after day with snowfall heaping upon snowfall in my hometown, it gives me no small measure of comfort to be living in a temperate climate where in the winter, and indeed year-round, the days are sunny and mild. I've been here for 4 months and I'm still walking around my new neighborhood gawking at all the blooming magnolia trees, fulsome cherry blossoms, sprouting birds of paradise, and the million other types of trees, flowers and shrubs that I can't name. It feels like cheating, somehow, to be living in this incredibly beautiful environment while my friends and family dig out from the snowbanks - if they're getting outside at all.

What boggles my mind is that Lilah will always know this as normal. All the intangibles that remind me of home - the sound of subways and taxi horns and of mourning doves, the smell of the Hudson, the sensation of warm spring air of New York - will never jolt her upon arrival there into feeling immediately, exasperatingly, adoringly HOME. The lucky girl will have a whole host of other sights, smells and experiences that brand her indelibly as a Californian. Seems very odd.

Monday, March 22, 2010

An Only in New York Moment

Riding the 7th Avenue Express train yesterday from Brooklyn into Manhattan, a group of riders (me among them) is discussing the best way to get from Chambers Street to Franklin Street with a mom who's got her two kids in tow. Should she get out at Chambers and walk to Franklin? No, I say, she should transfer to a local train at Chambers and ride to Franklin, thus sparing her the inevitable hassle of walking with two young kids + a stroller.

But this is a Sunday, and the MTA typically does track work on Sundays, and riding into Manhattan from Brooklyn can be a guessing game of where the train will stop and how and when to reach your destination if an Express suddenly goes local, or vice versa. This particular express seems to be making only express stops, which is a good sign. But the couple in the seats across from me disagree that we will stop at Chambers, or that Mom can transfer there to the local. We're running out of time, since the Automated Subway Lady Voice chirps that Chambers is the next stop. Sheesh.

With gentle prodding, the curly haired (but not necessarily semitic) middle aged woman next to me finally decides to pipe in. She looks up from her Sunday Times, shrugs diffidently, and says "it's Sunday. The trains are always meshuggenah." (For those non-Yiddish speakers among my readers....this means that the trains are always crazy, ie, screwed up.) Not helpful, but funny!

Only in New York, babies, only in New York.

(Oh, and the train did stop at Chambers, and Mom and Co. successfully exited to take the local. And I was left bemusedly pondering my seatmate's off-handed remark, which one likely would never hear on Bay Area Rapid Transit.)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Baby Lilah

I am such a terrible blogger....I must have left all my many, many readers (ha!) in a state of ongoing curiosity after my last post.

Lilah Caryl Montoya arrived on October 15, 2008 and has, quite simply, rocked our world in all the best possible ways. Since I lack the time (and truth be told, the motivation), it would be impossible to describe or even adequately summarize on this blog all the adventures, challenges and breathtaking moments during our first year with Baby Lilah, but suffice it to say she is a dream come true. She's such a happy and healthy little girl, and we are very, very happy parents. I feel grateful every day that she arrived in my life and finally made me a mommy (cue: weepy, melodramatic violins).
Above is a photo of Lilah in her Halloween costume as an inchworm. At right, celebrating her 1st birthday with a trip to the Brooklyn Children's Museum. Pure love.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

By Popular Demand

So, my cousin Andrea was asking me why I don't blog more often. The simple answer is that I'm not one of those people who feels compelled to narrate my entire life on the Internet for all to see. Nor do I think my day to day life is that note-worthy. I try to blog when something interesting or memorable happens....or when I find myself recounting the same story to several people. Then I know it's time to blog.

As most of my friends and family know, I am 7 months pregnant, and so far all is well (knock wood for me right now). I do plan to blog about the baby once she arrives in the world around mid-October. I'm just a little superstitious right now, and don't want to write anything about it.

But maybe this picture of what her Uncle Sascha is calling "Baby's First Mets Game" will satiate you thirsty Sterling Notes readers (all 3 of you). Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


According to the wise shopkeeper at La Tierra Mineral Gallery in Taos, New Mexico, the smoky quartz crystal has a relaxing effect, aiding in meditation. It helps us to make our dreams into reality, stimulates pride, and is especially useful for grounding and draining away negative energy. I would attribute the same properties overall to our trip to Albuquerque and Taos a few weeks ago. 

Now that Connie and Arturo have retired back to Albuquerque, Andres and I have the wonderful opportunity to visit the Land of Enchantment more frequently than in the past.  And we get to see the extended Montoya and Ortega clans with a little more regularity, so hopefully we'll become a little more familiar to them (California/New York outliers that we are)!  We spent several relaxed days visiting with the whole family before driving up north to Taos.  Our first stop was El Santuario de Chimayo, an adobe mission built in 1816 that is revered as a healing
shrine.  It is considered the most important Catholic pilgrimage site in the United States and is also a National Historic Landmark.  It's particularly important to Andres' family and it was a peaceful and contemplative stop on our journey.

Our stay at Hacienda del Sol in Taos was dreamy.  A small, extremely charming and comfortable B&B, it virtually backs up onto Taos Mountain - a splendid vista to encounter morning, noon or night.  I had been wanting to visit Taos for many years (long before I married a New Mexican) and it did not disappoint. I even found out that it's known as an energy vortex, which might explain why I have felt drawn there (depending on one's definition of a vortex, which I am not equipped to explain).

We also visited the Taos Pueblo, which is "the only living Native American community designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark."  The part that really boggles the mind and inspires deep perspective on the history of North American settlement is that the Pueblo has been continuously inhabited for over 1,000 years.  About 10-15 families currently live there and we were only permitted access to some of the public areas.  At first I felt a little awkward and invasive talking to some of the locals, asking them questions such as "how do you manage without running water or electricity?" and "do the young people stay at the Pueblo and raise their own families?" and taking photos of their adobe village.  But then I considered all the times when non-New Yorkers have asked me "where do you get your groceries?" and "what was it like to grow up in this city?", not to mention all the visitors who walk around taking pictures, and I felt slightly less intrusive.  We are each a curiosity to the Other, the ways we live equal parts foreign, mysterious and inconceivable.

The last leg of our trip was a return to Albuquerque, where we got to visit with Grandma Montoya one more time, and partook of some of her wisdom on the best methods for cooking green chile. Believe me, this is a highly specialized and significant ritual.   You do it wrong, and Grandma will not let you forget it. You do not want to admit to Grandma that you are cooking it with chicken broth, for example. Boy, is she tough.  Someday I hope to have the courage to prepare food for her.  Until then, I leave that job to Andres.  Anyway, we had a great time with her.  Here we are in her backyard, posing with Connie, Arturo (and their beloved sidekick Tiny, who never gets left behind).

We love you and we'll be back!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

La Guera Caballera

We have just returned from 6 restful days in Cabarete, in the Dominican Republic. Don't we look relaxed?

Despite a tropical storm that dumped rain on us for 2 days straight, with blustery winds that felled power lines and trees in town; rain showers which interrupted the sunshine nearly every day; and an unexpected night spent in the Best Western at San Juan International Airport (Hotel + Casino! Yes, let's lose some money, honey, before we take flight!) and um, what was I saying? Yes, DESPITE these pesky diversions, we had a very relaxing time in the expert hands of our hosts at the beautiful oasis that is Natura Cabanas, our "eco-sensitive beachfront boutique hotel and spa." Of the eleven cabanas, only three, maximum, were occupied at any given time during our stay. We were in fact the only guests for most of the week. Even the beach was sparsely populated; it was us, various and sundry ex-pats who retired to condos a few paces down the road, and a trickle of intrepid tourists from the all-inclusive resort several coves over. But usually it was just us and the sand crabs. We began to feel we were on a desert island. Yet we were treated with such warmth and graciousness by our Chilean, Spanish and Dominican hosts that we were hardly left to our own devices. Man Vs. Wild this was not (Bear Grylls would have been disgusted with us) though we were alone in a jungle, of sorts. This is the entrance to our cabana, aptly named Playa Cabana since it is not more than 30 or 40 yards from the beach.

And this is the gorgeously woolly and vibrantly green shoreline. See? Not a soul in sight. Ahhhh. Truth be told, it was a bit eerie, but on the whole, we were grateful to have such solitude. Even though the sunshine was far from steady, it was 80 degrees and beautiful. The storm permitted us to get lots of reading done, and also allowed us some perspective. Apparently there was severe flooding from the river near Cabarete, and many homes were badly damaged. Our restaurant was closed the first evening of the storm because of the havoc wrought in the staff's villages. They opened the next evening for dinner, and we inquired about their homes and were told that they had escaped severe damage. When the worst we had endured was having to eat cheese sandwiches for 2 nights...and they experience unimaginable poverty and infrastructural frailty on a daily basis...the mind boggles. I don't want to blurt out some stupid trite stereotype such as "but they're such happy people, anyway" HOWEVER, our darling concierge Elaine summed things up quite simply. She described her family and her community with the (very Dickensian) term "penniless" yet went on to say they feel lucky to be alive and to have one another.

A very good holiday message, methinks, eh?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Hometown Kids Root for the Home Team

Wednesday night, I finally made it to my first game at Shea this season with Andres, Mom, Dad, Sasch and special guest star Rhory Moss. Rhory grew up around the corner from us on 85th and West End, and he and Sascha (and I, too) are back living in NYC after many years away in Boston and San Francisco, respectively. So it was only fitting that we came together to root for our hometown team. And how sweet it was to see the Mets beat the Cards...even though the game was rained out after the 6th inning. But that was enough, because the score was 2-0. Take that, Cards!

Here's Rhory in his gorgeous yellow rain attire with Euge - their mutual adoration is written all over their adorable faces!

But the real reason for this post was so I could include this final photo of Sascha and Rhory at their 5th grade graduation from P.S. 166, June 1980. That's Laurel, Eugene and the late and much beloved Joy Moss. I'm the kid with the mullet eating a brownie. How ridonkulously cute is this? We love you Rhory, welcome home!