Tag Archives: New York City

March Winds

It’s been a cold, damp and windy March in the northeast this year.  When it’s damp like this, it’s literally bone chilling.  Most folks want to hunker down inside and spend the night watching TV, cooking and maybe even retiring early.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles before I sleep.  Robert Frost

I take inspiration from poets who incorporate nature into their metaphors.  On a recent bitter cold March night, I fought the weather and ventured out on a late evening walk to the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir in Central Park in New York City.

March winter winds

March winds in the Park

I have a great winter coat that’s literally the size of the Michelin tire character.  It’s ridiculous, but perfect for this kind of adventure.  It makes you impervious to cold, with its head to toe embrace of warmth!   I’ve made it a habit to explore things on the coldest days of winter in the northeast, for just this reason.  Once, I spent an afternoon alone at The Bronx Zoo, walking through the nearly empty park.  It was fantastic.  I had a front row seat to the few animals that could wander out in the cold.  This walk the other evening reminded me of that.

Central Park runners track

The runners are hunkering down at home on a bitter cold night!

There is definitely no other time of day, other than very much pre-dawn hours, that the running track at the reservoir is empty!  It’s quite a sight to see and one that I couldn’t resist venturing out to explore on my own.  Besides, who else would want to join me on a night like this one?

The Dakotas and reservoir on a cold night

The Dakotas standing tall on a cold winter’s night at the Reservoir

Standing on the abandoned runners’ track…looking west across the water, to NYC’s Dakotas towers, with the dark, dark backdrop of the sky.  What could be more beautiful?  Bundled up, heavy socks, layers of sweaters, a warm scarf, hat, gloves, wool socks and boots.  Sounds like Switzerland in the winter!  But what a great way to spend one of the coldest evenings of winter, out in the elements and treating myself to a great moment for “A Table For One”!

Copyright 2017 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved







Current Events

Here in the good old USA, 2016 is a big election year!  A new President will be elected next month.  The choices are a bit daunting and unusual this time around.  Perhaps there is no more important individual activity than voting!

“Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.”

Winston Churchill

I think a large part of what makes a healthy citizen is balance and a really good sense of humor. While taking a walk the other day, I came upon an inspired window display.

Hillary and The Donald

Presidential Candidates with Humor

It’s almost Halloween and this is such an eye-catching display for both the holiday and the upcoming election.   I had to laugh.  I don’t typically take public political stands, but I do consider my vote to be impactful and every citizen’s to be so as well.

Voting 2016

Solo obligations

I loved these pet toys on display in a New York City pet store window.  They’re fun and I thought they put the dilemma of the 2016 Presidential Election into a different perspective that includes some good humor and relief.

Go and Vote

2016 Your Own Vote Counts!

An important aspect of being on your own is remaining open and aware.  This is a great example of discovering the unusual by remaining aware to what’s around you.  Such fun and so rewarding.  Keep your eyes open and your sense of humor close at hand!  That’s a great “A Table For One” experience.

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved

The Mark Hotel

The Mark Hotel, is a real gem, tucked away on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  Great neighborhood and great location, on East 77th St. between Madison Ave. and Fifth Ave. just steps away from Central Park.

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”  Lao Tzu

Not only do I love traveling, I love to explore my own neighborhood and really take in the surrounding sights as though for the first time!  In this case, The Mark Hotel is a wonderful stop on the way to Central Park.  It’s got a lot to offer both guests and neighbors alike!

The Mark Hotel

The Mark Hotel

Recently renovated, The Mark Hotel has a more than a new face.  It features perhaps the most exclusive hot dog stand in NYC, if not the world!   The Mark “Haute” Dog Stand is by Jean-Georges.

Haute Dog Stand

The Mark Haute Dog Stand by Jean-Georges

It features high-end gourmet organic chicken and grass fed beef hot dogs served with a special kimchi relish as well as other more familiar condiments.  At $6 each, it’s a bit pricey for a hot dog, but well worth it as a unique eat!  Highly recommended.

Kimchi and condiments

The Mark Hot Dog by Jean-Georges with kimchi relish!

And, after a “haute” dog by Jean-Georges, you’re ready for a ride down Fifth Ave. for a shopping trip to Bergdorf Goodman.  The Mark keeps a branded Bergdorf Goodman bike on the ready.

Bergdorf Goodman

The Mark Hotel’s Bergdorf Goodman custom cycle

Very creative partnerships that enhance what is already a wonderful hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  A great way to enjoy a day exploring on your own.

Custom Cycling

The Mark’s Bergdorf Goodman Express!

check it out at www.themarkhotel.com.  Now that’s a seriously wonderful experience for “A Table For One!”

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All Rights Reserved



Central Park’s Conservatory Garden

At the top of New York’s “Museum Mile”, between 104th and 105th Street on Fifth Avenue sits Central Park’s gorgeous Conservatory Garden.    Six acres of beauty, divided into 3 smaller gardens, representing Italian, French and English traditional gardens are a sight to behold.

“How deeply seated in the human heart is the liking of gardens and gardening.”                  Alexander Smith

The Vanderbilt family built these gardens and the majestic gates leading into them is well known as “The Vanderbilt Gate”.  Made in Paris in 1894, the gates originally stood before the Vanderbilt mansion at Fifth Avenue and 58th St.  A magnificent, welcoming entrance for all.

The Vanderbilt Gate leading to the magnificent Conservatory Garden in Central Park

The Vanderbilt Gate to The Conservatory Garden, Central Park

This particular gathering place in Central Park is a “Quiet Zone”.  Meant to invite meditation, calm and inspiration, the various gardens evoke a special sort of spiritual energy.  When traveling on my own, I always love to explore the parks and gardens that populate so many cities. They provide a respite from the noise and hustle that make up city life.

Spring arrives NYC

Stunning pink and greens, in Central Park’s Conservatory Garden

Sundays are the most perfect day of the week for these kinds of explorations.  On the classic “day of rest”, I always feel free to wander and pick up on a spontaneous whim and go wherever it leads me.  Like the Sunday Drive, a good long walk on a Sunday is a luxurious indulgence.

Conservatory Garden

City Gardens, islands of beauty and rest in the city

The memory of that day inspired my recent Sunday outing to the Conservatory Garden, here in New York.  A late afternoon stroll was a balm to the soul.  I think that we frequently overlook the things that are right in front of us.  Sometimes, I try to apply my travel habits to my own home turf and set out on a Sunday afternoon as a “tourist”.

It’s the perfect way to revel in a Sunday afternoon adventure.  “A Table For One”.

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved





Easter NYC

With all the years I’ve lived in New York City, I’ve never attended the Saturday evening Easter Vigil mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  For the most part, it’s because I’m usually somewhere else with friends.  But this year, with Easter coming so early, I decided to stay in the city.

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”              Edith Wharton

Then came the inspiration, to walk down to the Cathedral for the Saturday Easter service.  A spectacular celebration of The Resurrection of Christ.  Renewed life.  Joy.  Light.  In churches around the world, Easter begins with this most stunning of services on Saturday evening.

Ceremony of Light, St. Patrick's Cathedral NYC

Ceremony of Light, St. Patrick’s Cathedral NYC

Since New York is a magnet for tourists, our midtown iconic destinations, like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, just across from Rockefeller Center, is constantly buzzing with people, cameras, flash bulbs and excitement.  But it’s also a parish church and NY’s local citizens frequently attend mass there, as well.

My maternal grandmother attended daily mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  She was a true matriarch and lived an exciting city life at The Biltmore Hotel on East 43td St.   We frequently went with her, to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for mass, so although it’s a real tourist attraction, for me it’s also home.

The celebration of light begins in darkness...

The celebration of light begins in darkness…

The mass begins with the cathedral cloaked in total darkness.  Then, a blazing fire is ignited at the back of the church.  The Cardinal begins the ceremony with readings.  All of the people hold candles which are subsequently lit from the same fire.  It’s breathtaking, as the church slowly illuminates by candle light and then finally the full-on brightness of every chandelier.  It’s so moving and takes your breath away.  I find that the pomp and circumstance of rituals like these are so stirring and special.  They’re perfect too, if you’re alone on a holiday.

Blessings from the Cardinal

Easter blessings from the Cardinal

Plan your holidays, but if you find yourself alone on one, I recommend looking at your surroundings as a tourist would.  Get out and explore.  Do something you’ve never thought of before.  Thinking like a tourist wherever you are will give you wonderful experiences to treasure.  And that’s “A Table For One”.

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved





St. Patrick’s Day NYC

I’ve come to think that New York City is one of the most exciting and accommodating cities in the world for Parades.  New York puts its rich diversity on display every year, with a host of parades honoring many different nationalities.  The St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of them and its said that on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish.  Certainly, in New York this is true!

“I’m Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.  I’m Italian on Columbus Day.  I’m a New Yorker every day”.  Tamara Tunie

New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade!

New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade!

The Parade participants march their way up Fifth Avenue from midtown all the way up to 86th St.  On display are the many counties of Ireland represented by flags, banners and people whose heritage dates back to these specific geographic areas in Ireland.  Many of those observing the parade happily cheer the counties their ancestors hail from too.

Bagpipers and their stirring aires!

Bagpipers and their stirring aires!

One of my absolute favorite things about St. Patrick’s Day is the number of bagpipers that come out in full regalia to march in the parade.  All along Fifth Ave., the stirring sounds of blaring bagpipes, drums and flutes fill the air.  It’s a truly unique and moving sight to see!

"Up Mayo!"

“Up Mayo!”

You can imagine that, with a last name of “O’Grady”, I definitely have Irish heritage.  My lineage also includes ancestors from France and England as well.  But I have to admit that I get a huge kick out of observing St. Patrick’s Day and attending the parade whenever possible.  I especially love seeing the County Mayo contingent marching.  That’s the county where my last name comes from.  In Ireland, if you said you were from Mayo, the response apparently was “God Help You”, because the soil was so rocky, it was nearly impossible to grow food there.

I like to think that some of my good traits can be traced back to this wonderful county that challenged my ancestors who learned to prevail and overcome any obstacles in their way.  As they say in Ireland “Up Mayo!”  Take “A Table For One” moment to enjoy a parade!

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved

Library Walk

I was walking yesterday in New York along a very familiar street in midtown.  For some reason, I looked down, as well as up and discovered something entirely new.  The street I was walking along had been named “Library Way”.  I’ve walked these blocks in New York so many times, but never noticed this delightful tribute to the iconic New York Public Library.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

Library Way

Library Way

I know it’s not just me.  It seems many of us are always in a rush, coming and going.  When you’re out and about on your own, no matter where it is, you have a great opportunity to take the time and really look at your surroundings.  Try to notice things that have always been there “hiding plain sight”.  You may amaze yourself, as I sometimes do, as to what you see.

Library Walk

Sidewalk Inspirations

In addition to the street signs, looking up, I discovered an entire series of amazing and inspirational sidewalk plaques lining “Library Way” starting on 41st St. and Park Avenue, all the way over to Fifth Avenue.  You could easily spend a good 1/2 hour or more meandering down this “Library Way”, reading each of the plaques that honor great authors of many centuries.

Great description of Life!

Wonderful thoughts along the “Library Way”

Of course, this wonderful pathway leads to the iconic mid-town New York City Library itself.  An architectural beauty with rich history and a bountiful offering of treasured books for the reading.

Library Way

Beautiful New York Public Library

Love this fascinating transformation of an ordinary NYC sidewalk into a magical pathway leading to an NYC landmark.  And to think it’s been there all this time unnoticed by me as I rush from one meeting to another.  I’m so happy I took the time to look up and look down!  I’m going to do this more often now.  And I hope you do too!   That’s “A Table For One” delight!

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved






Winter Storm Jason

Winter storm Jason will be traveling up the Northeast Coast of the U.S., wrecking havoc in his path this weekend. It’s the first snowstorm of the year and is promising to be a giant one!

“Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while.”  Kin Hubbard

This storm is big enough to warrant a name, and so I decided to spend some of my time inside, looking into why we name storms.  I guess I’ve pondered this before, but never had the time or inclination to actually research it…another great opportunity when you’re spending some time alone, you can delve into a subject you’ve been curious about.

Storm watch

Next stop East River!

Generally speaking, this is what most people think, when gearing up against a storm the size of Jason.  Panic prevails and the stores become overwhelmed by dazed customers rushing in to buy things they never thought they needed…cannned goods along with the staples including more milk and water, bread and eggs than they could possibly consume in the 24-48 hour duration of these “weather events”.

Bread, eggs and milk!

Run on Groceries as Jason’s arrival is anticipated

Not to make light of legitimate concerns over safety in any storm!  Having lived on the U.S. Northeast coastline for most of my life, you learn to respect mother nature, take nothing for granted and always hedging against the worst…especially in a storm that merits a name!

Stock up for Jason

Stockpiling for the Storm

So back to my findings on this particular “naming” topic.  The naming of hurricane storms started in 1950.  Before then, these were tracked by years and the order in which they occurred.  But apparently, that frequently caused confusion when 2 or more storms were brewing near each others longitudinal and latitudinal positions ‘s at the same time.  It was thought that there would be more clarity in communications, therefore, if these huge storms were instead given names.

It wasn’t until 3 years later, in 1953 that women’s names were used, in addition to men’s.  Atlantic based hurricanes rotate names every 7th year, unless a particular storm was so devastating that the name is subsequently retired.  There are 78 names that have been retired since 1954.  2005 holds the record for retired names within one year, having 5 taken off the roster, including  Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma.

Winter storm at home

Jason arriving NYC chez moi Upper East Side

But winter storms only began bearing names in 2012, when The Weather Channel thought that, like hurricanes, giving these huge storms names would help communicate better to the public when an outsized storm or blizzard was coming. It began with a November Nor’easter that The Weather Channel named “Winter Storm Athena”.

And so, as the weekend kicks off, we run to the market, shore up our pantries and hunker down for the arrival of Jason.  He promises to make quite a mark on the Northeast corridor!

Be safe everyone!  And if you’re on your own, be sure to enjoy “A Table For One” this weekend.

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

New Year Lights

This year, I stayed in New York for New Year’s Eve.  I’ve visited lots of different places on New Years, hosted wonderful dinner parties on Nantucket and rung in most “new” with great friends.

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, It will be happier.”                     Alfred Lord Tennyson

I love the start of a new year.  And celebrating at home means cooking the best recipes of the year, serving the best champagne I can find and watching the famous ball drop in Times Square.    I never tire of the midnight toasts and warm embraces of loved ones and friends.

But, like most holidays, I love to extend the celebration and make it last as long as possible.  In New York City, that’s easy.  In the days following New Year’s, a walk through the city at night presents a perfect opportunity to continue the holiday, by observing the beautiful street lights.

New York Street Lights

Holiday Street Lights in New York

Taking an evening stroll through the city, brightens the early-dark-nights of the New Year.   I always make a point of exploring the side streets and avenues without a specific plan.  I love all kinds of walks, but the purpose of this one is simply to wander and observe.

Park Avenue Lights

Park Avenue’s Holiday Light Displays

It can be very rejuvenating to begin the new year by observing all of the beauty around you, no matter where you are.  Extend the bright hopes of a new year beyond the traditional New Year’s eve midnight celebrations!

New York City Lights

Colorful City Lights NYC

Open your heart and mind to the hope that the year ahead will be filled with joy and the anticipation of all things possible.  And be sure to use any time on your own to explore, wander and enjoy every moment with all of your senses recharged!  That’s what starts a New Year right at “A Table For One.”

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved




Christmas and Trees

One of the most wonderful things about December is the number of Christmas trees that spring up everywhere.  I love Christmas and I love the proliferation of trees!

“I know that a Christmas tree farm in Pennsylvania is about the most random place for a country singer to come from, but I had an awesome childhood.”  Taylor Swift

I can totally identify with Taylor Swift’s description of an awesome childhood, having grown up on a Christmas tree farm.  It sounds like a dream come true!

Lots of decorations

Trees line the streets!

Christmas tree shopping was a ritual in my home growing up.  My Dad would pile us all into the trusty woodie wagon and we’d all head out to pick one out as a family, which was never easy!  The catch, however, was that my father loved to buy “live” trees that could be planted after Christmas.  This made it extra special, because you could see each Christmas tree permanently growing on our property.  It was a unique and truly memorable way to celebrate.

The tree is always the highlight at Christmas!

The tree is always the highlight at Christmas!

That may be why I became enthralled with Christmas trees from childhood, onward.  When I moved into New York to my first apartment, a small studio walk-up, I made a pledge to buy a Christmas tree every year, despite the tiny size of my apartment.   Living on a shoestring meant that I had to start with a very small tree.   I promised myself to buy a bigger one each year, until I could afford a big one, in the 6 foot + range.  And that’s exactly what I did!

Tree in my building in NYC!

Tree in my building in NYC!

Now, I live in a building in NYC that celebrates Christmas with a giant tree that delights all of us.  I still buy my own tree, but the ones they display surpass any height of an indoor tree that I’ve seen.  It’s just delightful to come home to it every evening during December.  We also have evenings with music and champagne!  It always inspires me to go out and take notice of all the trees in the city and wherever I go, during December.

It’s a great way to celebrate Christmas coming with “A Table For One!”

Copyright 2015 Marion M. O’Grady