Archive for April, 2008

Walking on Eggshells

WALKING ON EGGSHELLS: A TALK ON RELATIONS BETWEEN ADULT CHILDREN AND PARENTS

Whether you’re the parent who can’t get your child to return phone calls or the adult child who dreads a visit home, most of us wish family relations were easier. On Sunday, May 4, author Jane Isay will speak on “Navigating Relationships Between Adult Children and Parents.” Her talk, sponsored by the Hevesi Jewish Heritage Library of the Central Queens YM&YWHA, will be at the Reform Temple of Forest Hills, at 71-11 112 Street, at 10 a.m. Admission to Isay’s talk is $7 and includes a light kosher brunch. Isay will speak on her bestselling book, Walking on Eggshells, a gentle guide for perplexed parents and frustrated adult children…

[H]er book offers new ways to stay close while navigating the issues that most often create conflict. As high school kids head off to college and others graduate, her talk is a timely reminder of the ways in which parents need to grow along with their grown kids.

Jane Isay has been Editor-in Chief at Harcourt Books, with a career as editor for some of the groundbreaking authors in psychology and child development, including Mary Pipher and Alice Miller. She has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, and CBS’s Early Show.

For more information, call 718-268-5011, ext. 151, or email pkurtz@cqyjcc.org. Interviews & photo available.

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April 30, 2008 at 7:09 am Leave a comment

May Day Soon for Us

By Emily Kehoe

Seasons, holidays, celebrations . . . I can’t get enough of them. And one is sneaking up on us now that will come and go without fanfare, except by our own efforts. May Day. There is no Hallmark card for this one, and maybe that’s why I find it so appealing. Ancient roots with lots of history and festivals to herald in Spring, many of which are still carried out in parts of Europe. Now, I am not suggesting that we start dancing around a maypole—remember those?—but I am suggesting some small acts of kindness that are associated with the holiday: leaving small bunches of flowers and/or sweets for neighbors anonymously. If the sheer unexpected kindness of it could potentially unnerve your neighbors and lead them to call 911 or the 112th, then include a note. Next year, those same neighbors will be that much more used to the annual revelry.

Go forth and make merry this May Day.

Image Framingham State College, by Marc Kantrowitz and Marianne Larson

April 28, 2008 at 10:14 pm Leave a comment

All That Matzoh

What to do with it, now that Passover is over—

April 28, 2008 at 7:09 pm Leave a comment

Yet Another Bonfire Critique

Check out eateryRow’s fair and balanced review of Bonfire Grill.

Complete with pictures of plates and a touch of rack, plus a good shot of the restaurant’s front face.

April 28, 2008 at 9:57 am 1 comment

Newish Blog in Town

Forest Hills Nests is a blog about the ups and downs and ins and outs of Forest Hills renovation and real estate. Enjoy!

It’s pretty new (said by the blogger who has been at it for just over 6 months) and a welcome addition to Forest Hills’ blogosphere.

April 28, 2008 at 9:43 am Leave a comment

McHelpless

A reader who goes by the handle Matches Malone wrote to me about a certain house on 63rd Drive that drives him to distraction. It’s the McEyesore he loves to hate. He sent some photos too, below, thinking a blog like Splitting Hairs (and other blogs) might be able to help.

I’ve given this some thought. In fact, I walked over to the see the house, and en route, came upon a bevy of sprouting and existing McMonstronsities in the area that I hadn’t noticed before, including, and especially, two mega-monstronsities on the service road of the Grand Central Parkway. If I hadn’t been an eye witness to how things have been developing in Forest Hills these past two decades, I’d swear those two were assisted-living facilities or catering halls or something similarly institutional, that’s how big they are.

I am at a loss for words because these are unlandmarked areas, so anyone can buy and remodel or tear down and rebuild as long as they stay within the existing zoning codes. That we might decry them for not fitting in with the existing architecture is often the beginning and end of what we can do. It’s really frustrating, isn’t it, but that’s how change works. Those in the preexisting circumstances resent who/what comes after them and feel displaced. In this case, we who have been here for years fear that we might no longer recognize our neighborhood.

Feeling Matches pain, I e-mailed a friend in Forest Hills who has been here for a long time and has been involved in several community-related causes. I figured he might have a better answer, or even any answer. Here’s what I got:

I doubt anything can be done at this point, except to file complaints about minor infractions (as I did about one of the houses by me put in its own sidewalk—still waiting to hear back on that and not counting on it).

The immediately adjoining single-family house neighbors should have formed an effective coalition at the very first McMansion and tried to put a stop to it with rezoning, landmarking, covenants as per the Gardens, camping out on some politician’s doorstep, etc. You can do this more easily if you know your neighbors, and my guess is that fell by the wayside, too. Now people don’t want to see their neighbors, let alone know them. Many of them likely said, “Someone should do something” and no one did.

Another option is not selling to people who seem likely to tear down your house, but often the financial incentive is too great to turn down.

The only saving grace is that the energy cost of many large rooms with high ceilings and all those big windows has got to cost them bundles.

And here is where we might be on solid ground to raise some Cain about zoning laws. How they look and whether the owners participate in the community are subjective calls, but I think we can all agree that such houses are, simply, bad for the world because of their negative environmental impact. You, reader, know this intuitively, but here’s one link that collects a lot of facts in one place:

Big Houses Are Not Green: America’s McMansion Problem

It’s an excellent piece on the subject that captures the helplessness many people feel, as encapsulated in this quote:

A long-time opponent of teardowns, Grant sees the future as unpredictable: “It remains to be seen whether the jumbo loans that support these houses can continue” in light of the current turmoil in the mortgage industry. But, he laments, “There seems to be a certain inevitability about it. The trend started in older, more densely populated parts of the country [like Lexington], but it has spread to most markets. People object to the first teardowns that happen in their neighborhood, but eventually, they seem to get used to it – especially when they see studies showing that teardowns tend to raise all property values in the neighborhood.”

Should we just resign ourselves and pretend it’s not happening as fast and as much as it is? Or should we collect our ideas for how to deal with this and see how far we can get with them? I prefer the latter option.

There’s so much else out there on this subject, for those interested. Just Google “mcmansions and the environment.” And send in your comments and ideas. I’m willing to explore this widely and deeply if you are, but it has to be a group effort to be at all effective.

April 25, 2008 at 7:26 pm 1 comment

Songs of Love

Forest Hills-based Songs of Love Foundation gets a nice plug in the Daily News today. The foundation writes personalized, original songs for chronically ill children. Today’s article highlights one such child, Tyler Adams, whose song was written by actor Paul Dano.

Throughout two surgeries to fight a brain tumor that blurred her vision and gave her headaches, 14-year-old Tyler Adams always had a bright outlook – and now the Long Island girl is a regular “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Paul Dano, who played Dwayne, the intentionally mute wanna-be pilot, in the 2006 hit movie, wrote and recorded a “song of love” for Tyler in Queens Thursday.

“It’s a nice way to help somebody out and lift their spirits. Hopefully, she’ll smile,” said Dano, 23.

Dano’s tribute – produced through the Forest Hills-based Songs of Love Foundation – is especially sweet for Tyler, who saw “Little Miss Sunshine” months before doctors found tumors near her pituitary gland in January.

The eight-grader, who was at home in Freeport recovering after marathon surgeries on March 22 and April 8, said she was excited when she found out Wednesday that Dano, whose character made her cry at the end of the movie, was lending his voice to a special CD being recorded just for her.

Read more here.

April 25, 2008 at 6:04 am Leave a comment

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