It Was 20 Years Ago, TODAY.

These are photos that I took from Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, on September 11, 2001.

Remember? (How could you ever forget.)

Manhattan skyline, Freedom Tower, August 2021
Lady Liberty still stands guard in NY Harbor…(far left of image, as another ferry heads to “the island” from “the city”…

Think about your childhood, and all those times all the grown-ups would visit on a Sunday afternoon and the talk was all about “the olden days” (bborrrriiinggg!) so you would stop listening because that was way back in time and who even wants to hear about it? So, you took your Barbie or your GI Joe and you found a cousin and went outside to play.

In 20 years, skyline of Staten Island has changed as much as the Manhattan skyline.

Now, today, there’s talk about the “olden days,” but to us, it was real life and it happened. We lived through it and past it and made it to this moment. (There’s a meme that is around now, that reminds us that “1981 is as far from us now, as 1939 was from 1981”, and dang it, I REMEMBER 1981!!!)

NYC is the most amazing of places because it refuses to STOP; it WILL keep on keeping on; it will continue to grow and change and be something it never was…. (when “I” was a child, one didn’t VENTURE into Times Square alone, at night, unaware!!!)

Will this be the last time I see or ride on this class of ferry?

We rarely acknowledge the “last time”—yes, at graduation or a funeral, but on the whole? We remember our first kiss (maybe) and we obsessively record the homecoming of each Child, and pet and vehicle, and The First Day of School—years per-k through the day they are deposited at a college dormitory.

Rarely, oh so rarely are we given the foreknowledge that this is the last time that you’re going to see that person, or be in that place or do that thing. Can you honestly recall the last time you tucked your child in at night? Or the last time they let you read to them with you lying cuddled against their warm little body? You don’t really remember because on a random Tuesday night, they say, “no mommy,” and you breathe a silent sigh of relief, because really you needed to finish washing the dishes. But then on Wednesday and on Thursday and on Friday you are given a similar reprieve and suddenly it becomes the new normal and nobody told you to absorb that feeling, to memorize it.

I looked past the Twin Towers every day of my high school career; daydreaming out the window. I rarely acknowledged them when I turned down Victory, although I did once stop when I had film in my camera. They were just THERE.

So, I paid attention to the smells and the textures and the visual of the boat. Because, well, the bright new shiny ones may be smoother and cleaner faster and lighter, it won’t be like it used to be at all.

Nothing ever is.

“It’s wonderful to be here
It’s certainly a thrill
You’re such a lovely audience
We’d like to take you home with us
We’d love to take you home” Sgt. Pepper

And NYC, TODAY, is certainly a thrill, A different one to be sure.

But so are we all, so are we all. And home? You can’t really go back home. Home is a memory, home is your history.

Old blog posts with 9/11/01 content.

Seasons of Love, Redux…September 11, 2008 —(republish)


Originally uploaded by rteest42

September 11, 2008.

A day that we may find respite from the increasingly ridiculous political garbage, a day when maybe any of the candidates may realize WHY they want the job anyway!!! (and a day where there are many scrambling to avoid the natural disaster of Ike who may not have the time to ponder old ills because of the new and very real ones heading their way…good luck to you)

The following is an essay I wrote back in 2002. At the bottom of this essay there will be a link to some of my photos of the day, and my first-person account of the day. I don’t need to keep saying more. This should be enough.

How will the NEXT year be measured? RENT closed the other day. One more thing from then, gone. But before it left, it had become an anachronism.Seeing it last month, I couldn’t help but note later to my cousin that the world of RENT had become a period piece…

“Seasons of Love” ( From the musical RENT, by Jonathon Larson)

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure – measure a year?…
In daylights – in sunsets
In midnights – in cups of coffee
In inches – in miles
In laughter – in strife…
How about love?…
Measure in love…

Seasons of love…

…Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan…
…How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?…
In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In the bridges he burned
Or the way that she died…
It’s time now – to sing out
Tho’ the story never ends
Let’s celebrate….
…Remember the love…

Measure in love…

These words came to me, as I was driving, and they helped themselves to my quilt. So, how do I honor this past year? There were so many changes in my life…my brother moving in with us, my marriage, the graduation of my daughter, her moving away to college, my moving away from New York, changing jobs…and all of these, tinged with the memory of a year past… …and of the sights and sounds of horror as we stood and watched the buildings fall; and the tears shed on my brothers shoulder, and the tears Arlie cried on mine; the cold wet ground stealing up through my shoes as the bag-pipes played at Mike Fiore’s funeral; of the endless processions of sadness that lined Staten Island roads for months as family after family came to the sad realization that their loved one was gone.
I wanted a way to honor this.I decided that around the border of this quilt, I embroidered the initials of some lost that day.In the blocks are folk-art styled symbols of the events. I was fortunate enough to know few. But step outside the line, just one step from my door, and there are many people I know who lost friends and family. I would like to use their initials on my quilt as well.

“There is no good memorial for them but remembering.”

September 11, 2002

( I had to remove a broken link — because of this, it is republishing itself and I have no idea how to not have it email out…. sorry)

A weekend trip…

Life in the time of Corona part eleventy-billion. A weekend away. In hotels. In another STATE.

I mean, like WOW, that doesn’t seem like it should deserve a blog post, right?

But, these are crazy times in which we are living and so a weekend jaunt to Carlisle, PA took on outsized significance. We left the state! Mind you, it was by car, not plane, but that is our normal form of travel. We have done one overnight once, but had stayed in Virginia. We drove to Virginia Beach last month, for about 24 minutes before the thunderstorms chased us away. But a whole weekend! With only one thing on the itinerary, The Chrysler Nationals Car Show, we decided I would tag along and “suffer” untold hours and thousands of cars, if only my hunny would “suffer “ the day before going quilt shop hopping. After all, staying home all weekend alone (and with nothing particular to do or place to go, has been done to death the last 16 months)

So, that became the plan. I would search for lists of quilt shops to poke around in all day long, and on Saturday, Timmy would share his voluminous knowledge of all things automotive.

Timmy discovered The red caboose motel. This motel, in the middle of a corn field (duh! There’s hardly a place NOT near a cornfield in the middle of Amish country in Pennsylvania) is also right on the train tracks and near the train museum in Ronks, PA. Back in 1970, they started buying cabooses and turning them into motel rooms.

View from the top of the grain silo.

Adorable tiny houses! They are the size they are. They can’t be taller or wider than a train car. (although it did appear to me one or two may have had an addition off-track to make it supersized) they have configured them in a variety of ways to sleep a lot of different family groups. One bed, two beds, two beds and some bunks, some loft space beds…. tv’s, fridges, tables and bathrooms, all onboard. And a restaurant, on site. (OBVIOUSLY in a dining car, and of course named Casey Jones) And yes, you exit through the gift shop.

There’s a petting zoo. An abandoned grain silo with stairs inside so you can walk up 50 feet high and survey your kingdom. Train rides, complete with black billowing smoke and whistles. Your inner kid will thrill. 

You probably wouldn’t choose this as a honeymoon location. (I stand corrected. I just looked at some of the cabooses and indeed there is a Honeymoon Suite, complete with whirlpool bath. But, gentlemen–make sure this is your future bride’s desire, too… don’t go getting cute on the honeymoon by surprising her 😉 )

You would have to be idiotic to be expecting a 5-star Ritz experience. You have to have given some thought to the logistical limitations of a confined, defined space when you booked. Right? You would think.

We loved it. It was fun, the employees were friendly (and in “costume” as conductors) or in engineer bibbed overalls and red scarves around their necks. The food was delicious. We received a call from the front desk an hour after arrival to see if we were settled, did we need anything, did we find anything amiss? We were charmed by this touch and we told him we had everything we needed.

Upon arrival.

In  the morning, though?? Oh, the bed was MISERABLE. I mean first class awful. Timmy sells mattresses, so there has never been a hotel mattress that stands up to HIS scrutiny, but it was bouncy and hard. I don’t know how people sleep on spring mattresses, and I think if testing whether a mattress is ready to be replaced, one person laying down for a hot minute doesn’t work. What needs to occur is a smaller person needs to lie down while a larger person lays down and then tries to turn over–and if either of you think it’s high tide, it’s time for a new bed. But we survived. One night’s bad sleep wont kill anyone.

We packed up, the sun was shining after a rainy night. Walking back from an early morning visit to see three little piglets,, I was behind two middle aged ladies who were on a girls weekend.  They approached their car and sneered and whined. There were FLIES on their car. “This is DISGUSTING” one said to the other.


I said good morning as they were our next door caboose neighbors. They said hello, and then immediately wanted to know how big was our bathroom? Quite generous in size, I replied.  She then responded with incredulity, that THEIR bathroom was tiny. SO TINY in fact, that the sink was in the bedroom. Had I EVER heard of such a thing!!  “Yes, actually,” I said, “There is just so much space in a caboose and they did have to tailor the space to accommodate parties of different sizes–how many beds did you have?”

Well. They had two full beds AND a set of bunk beds! Where did they expect all the space went?? What is the real problem with a sink in the bedroom? I have enjoyed hotels that have the toilet and shower in another room, because I can do make-up, etc, while Timmy showers…

THEY MISSED THE POINT.  Travel should EXPAND. You know that it’s the journey, not the destination, right?  They didn’t get anything out of being there. I don’t know HOW they ended up there.

Timmy turned in his key and the “conductor” asked how our stay was; had we any issues? Of course he said it was lovely. They responded in a way that indicated that they were glad to hear, because they had just gotten an earful from our next door neighbors.


We had a list of quilt shops in and around Lancaster to visit, and started after a breakfast at Waffle House. What? Don’t judge, there were 30 minute or more waits everywhere— high summer season in the time of Corona and all. You KNOW what you are getting and how long it will take 😉 .

And we visited many. The number isn’t important. What is important is that I didn’t spend my daughter’s inheritance. That turned out to be wise, because as we arrived at Obie’s Fabric, who did I see but my daughter!! She and my husband hatched a plan and surprised me! (They were GOOD. She was texting me WHILE sitting in front of the shop, asking how I was finding my shopping, and I was thinking I was responding to someone on her lunch hour in NYC!)

I had heard that Obie’s was a sight to see, that it couldn’t be put into words, and photos didn’t really express it. Some things have to be experienced to be believed. I was reasonably sure people were being hyperbolic.

The first hint I was wrong should have been the porch, which felt like it was out of a horror film.

Let me stop here though. I am trying not to be judgmental. Really. (I may need to come back and edit or clarify or something, to really make you understand this isn’t like some evil yelp review. That isn’t what I want to be doing)

So, the porch.

Cardboard boxes inside cardboard boxes, stacked halfway to the ceiling on one side, and it didn’t seem like it was THIS week’s UPS. (I actually read on a FB thread after getting home that boxes left by UPS remain on the porch, unopened. I can believe this)

But we opened the door anyway and stepped inside. Dark. Stuffy scent, old dark-stained wood floors. And an overwhelming sense of awe.

Not awesome.

Not awful.

Just awe.

What is happening here? There is a penny candy shelf, open to touch, and thigh-high; a temptation no child could refuse.

And everywhere else around you is fabric. Cotton quilting fabric. Of every hue, at every angle, and higher than you can reach without a ladder. (Only later did it occur to me that there’s not enough open floor space to open a ladder.)

View from upstairs.

Ooh, look at this! That’s pretty! Oh that color!!! As you keep walking, you start to have heart palpitations as you turn a corner and now there’s fabric piled higher than you are on both sides of you, with a path barely wide enough for an adult. Light doesn’t reach all the way down, It feels like being in a cave, in a crevice, and you know somewhere just out of sight are signs saying, “Watch for falling Rocks.”

And you notice that there’s some rhyme and reason, some categories, some thought. It is possible someone knows where, approximately, to find a purple and green stripe, or something with beachy vibes.

I never did find out who that person might be. We stayed inside for 10 minutes. I never saw anyone who indicated that they were owner or employee. Three other women came in after us, mouths agape. It was just the five of us. Timmy came in and escaped pretty fast.

How can you shop?

But no one ever approached us to welcome us, ask us if there was anything we might be looking FOR (and I think that they might actually KNOW where it was, come to that. There did seem to be some method to the madness) We climbed the stairs and the atrium was similarly covered in fabric—- Christmas on one whole side. There was a flat surface, empty, almost the width of a yard of quilt fabric, and it had bits of cutting mat glued down for measuring.

I don’t know how you buy fabric there. You can’t pull out a fabric bolt and hug it and pet it and carry it around the store looking for coordinating pieces. Most of the fabric you can only see bolt ends. You might want the bottom bolt but how do you get it out without the bolts all collapsing on you? Where would you stack them if you played Jenga and won?

And for all that, most of the prices were that of a quilt boutique shop. You pay not just for fabric, but for the ambiance and the interactions with your LQS owner and other shoppers and the ability to pick their brain for color help, for tutorials and pattern understanding when you are stuck— the skills and community that happen when two or more quilters find themselves in the same place.

This experience however, made me wonder what might happen if I had wanted that bolt down on the bottom, in the back. It made question the way the fire marshal must look the other way, it made me question how many people have filed injury claims against their insurance…It made me feel overwhelmed and claustrophobic and nervous, not anything resembling the excitement that normally occurs when I’m looking at all the pretty things. It made me think of the way my mother died, surrounded by her hoard of things that swallowed her whole.

She probably does have whatever you are looking for. But you can’t look for it, and you will never find that piece of fabric you never knew could not live without until you saw it.


Timmy won first place in his grouping, Sebring/200 class) 🍾

There were thousands of cars. 3,000.


We took the long way home.

Through Skyline Drive, hunting the sunset….