Wow! I've just discovered I can blog from my phone, which may sound a little tacky but it does get the great moments out there much faster and to the people who don't tweet (my family, most of the people I personally know). So here is my first experimental entry: This morning I had to run a bunch of errands and forgot to eat. I was too far from a Star Bucks, I'll say that again because you've probably never heard that before, I was too far from a Star Bucks, but I saw a little sign that said coffee shop in a local strip mall.
I thought this would be a little coffee counter with a few pastries and pot'o'coffee. As I've pointed out New York is sometimes magic and this was one of those moments. I stepped of the sidewalk and into a 1960s coffee shop, complete with the older owners cooking the food and older women (one with a beehive do) waiting tables. As far as I could tell the owners were Greek. When a man came in he was seated at the bar stools and women were seated at a tiny booth. There was a little more space in the back for families. When I say 'the back' I mean the waaaay back. The diner had to be 120 feet deep to it's 12 feet wide.
My waitress's name was Hannah. If I needed anything Hannah was going to make it happen. The coffee was a little sour and the eggs a little greasy but my little plate of eggs, toast and a fruit plate (made specially by Hannah since there wasn't one on the menu) was the most satisfying breakfast I have had in a while and cost $7.35. This, plus hanging out in a place where time has stopped made for a great start for a day in New York. So much for that other place with the, you know, green and white sign.
People make a lot of jokes about living on Long Island; and they are all deserved as far as I can tell. However there are several advantages to this location, one being the beaches another being the available amount of sunlight not blocked by buildings. Hand-in-hand with that sunshine theme comes a quaint little area called The Hamptons. The members of which are East Hampton, South Hampton, North Hampton and Chuck Hampton, the one they don't talk about. The Hamptons are located at the far end of Long Island because they don't mix well with the rest of Long Island and their mother is afraid they might catch something.
Anyway, a friend informed that we were going to attend an event happening at the East Hampton Library; an Authors Night Co-Chaired by Alec Baldwin, Candace Bushnell and Jay McInerney with the addition of Barbara Walters. My friend had the intention of possibly marrying Alec (who has just written a book about divorce) before the night was through and the other two of us were there to support her. What are friends for?
When we arrived the literary event was in full swing and everyone who was everyone in the Hamptons was there. My eye was caught by the main table however, where sat several people whom I have admired for quite some time. Not Alec (who was marrying my friend) or Candice or Jay. It was also not the Housewives of New York who were there, or Anne Heche, or several other TV or Movie personalities whom I didn't recognize much to the shame and mortification of my companions.
No, but there, there, was Neil deGrasse Tyson Astrophysicist and Hayden Planetarium Director, writer of "The Pluto Files" and Billy Collins, writer of "Ballistics: Poems" and many other books of Poetry and former Poet Laureate of the US. Admittedly I also had the opportunity to stalk James Lipton who was attending as a guest. Mr. Lipton is the fellow who hosts "Inside the Actors Studio" but is also perhaps less known for being a man of interesting literary interests.
These were some of my favorite attendees of many other talented and excellent authors gracing the tables in the event tent. So while my friends were busy admiring "stars" of one kind, I was off staring starry eyed at a fellow who looks at stars for a living and gathering as many geek snaps as possible.
When my companions and I were finally reunited they looked at me suspiciously wondering if I had, indeed, found anything to amuse myself with as it was not I who wished to marry Alec Baldwin. When I began gushing about meeting some of my long-time scientific and poetic and literary idols they looked as if they were going to need to stage an intervention.
Me and Neil
However I had happily gotten MY prize of the afternoon and was just as happy or more so as my friend who had at least been able to 'closely hug' Alec Baldwin and was sure nuptials would follow. So lets hear it folks, give it up for getting a picture with the man himself. Snap SNAP snap Snap!
Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read,.............
My BFF and I (my Iphone) have discovered a new activity to enjoy together. Yes, we still browse apps, search for restaurants, play games and listen to 'toons. He checks my e-mails and finds me awesome parking places; what more could I want? But now I've discovered He has been harbouring a little app called Classics wherein are some of my favorite novels of the past and present and some that I read so long ago I cannot remember the plots. So not only can we slowly run through fields of flowers and dandelions, my hair flowing in the breeze, holding my Iphone and hoping that an ambulance comes to resuscitate me once my asthma kicks in but we can read together.
And so after re-reading 'Pride and Prejudice' just so that I could image Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, I turned my attention to 'The Count of Monte Cristo', by Alexandre Dumas, one that I could not recall at all except for the classic theme's from which all guy movies are now based and ever will be (same goes for Jane Austen and chick flicks).
'The Count' is core to one of my favorite graphic novels - 'V' giving me more impetus to read the great book again. Of course I couldn't remember if it was great but I assumed it was.
But it IS great and I am glued to it! My I phone and I are glued to each other now and we are reading this amazing book. I can't stop. According the my Iphone I am on page 3341. THAT'S RIGHT PEOPLE! 3341! This is not the abridged version. Shame on those who read the abridged version. Of course the pages are all 1.5 inches by 2.5 inches with only about 200 words on them but who cares? They look like text in a book and turn like real pages. I looked ahead and found that when I'm done I will have read some 5550+ pages! Cool!
Did I mention the story? You all must immediately go and read this book. Every section has had a movie or a book made out of it, let alone the whole of the story. This was groundbreaking, astounding. I can't wait to see what happens, who's gonna get it or not get it. Does anyone come out of this unscathed? And the language, the language is wonderful, fun, entertaining useful. This is the original Harry Potter.
I've got an extra charger for my Iphone so I can keep reading and won't run out of batteries. I can read and answer e-mails, phone calls and ignore everything else. Yesterday was sunday so I stayed in bed half the day, hardly ate and kept reading.
Why don't I get the actual book you might ask? Why the battery pack? Why? Why? Because silly, with the Iphone I can read in the dark!
Excuse me, but I must go, this has already taken too long and I must get back because the Count is about to meet Mercedes again and well, you know...
ps I cannot emphasize more how awesome the FULL not the abridged version is. Also it's very nice reading the version that is Dumas alone and not another scholar putting in their opinions on the text.
No, this is not the call of an owl in our backyard. Mainly because no owl would venture into the middle of populated Long Island, let along near our backyard with a pit bull on one side and a pack of boys who love to practice their pitching on the other. (Oh, and let's not forget the guy behind us who has his grill ready 24/7.)
No, this wise owl is actually Woot.com a strangely addicting website that features one product each day for a very discounted price. Sometimes the deals are dream deals and sometimes the deals are, well, for the very bored or slow (or special). There are also 2 other aspects of Woot; the Shirt.Woot and the Wine.Woot. I've become completely addicted to the Shirt.Woot because the designs contain several things I value and admire; originality, wit, fairly clean fun and puns. I've sculked around Wine.Woot for a while, just watching, as it were.(just to be thorough, I am not paid by or sponsored by any business mentioned in this blog post. Everyone is mentioned out of fondness or horror.)
About, oh, a month ago? I had the chance to appreciate how cool it was to be living in the New York vicinity, when I spotted a message about a Wine.Woot wine tasting meet-up in Brooklyn at a small art gallery, Like the Spice. "Way!" Said I. It took a little convincing to get the Doc to go,
"Doc, there's a Wine.Woot tasting at an art studio in Brooklyn, wanna go?"
"(Car starting, engine gunning).."Well, get in already..."
Did I mention Woot keeps the Doc in vacuums year round? Did I also mention the Doc loves little art galleries around Brooklyn?
Here I must make a small detour to explain to friends in the South that although Brooklyn is technically on one end of Long Island, getting to there from where we live looks a little like this:
Anyway, once we arrived the place was hopping with "Young People" (the doc's words for anyone who doesn't look like they came from mid-Long Island) associated with the gallery and Woot fans all angling for the all important Woot sock monkeys that makes a sort of monkey dieing sound when flung away from you on rubber-band arms.
Also there were many very good hors d'oeuvres and lots of white wine of Woot's very own.
"She was a flirty little Trollop you could take any where and drink all night"
was the Doc's assessment.
Hmmm, am I forgetting anything? Wait, there was that gallery, and the artists, yes I'm remembering now. The Like the Spice Gallery was hosting the work of artist Rueben Negron, who is IMHO an exceptional water colorist and a charming gentleman with an equally charming partner Neomi and a possibly even more charming new baby (who had a prior engagement that evening). We were also very pleased to meet the owner of the gallery, Marisa Sage, whom we would like to visit again if we could only figure out the above map. (Just kidding Marisa, we'll get there soon.) All in all we had a most engaging evening. Heck we had a blast and met a lot of people we want to stay in contact with. So why am I dredging up this month old event? First, shamefully I thought I had published this post and I hadn't! Sniff, forgive me friends; and second, we are still in touch with some of the people we met that night, granted mostly on e-mail and such, but in contact we are and I look forward to seeing them again. Third, you all really had to see the monkey video. Really.
Therefore, I would heartily recommend that everyone have a sudden night out to somewhere they've never been to, to meet people they've never seen, drink wine they've never tasted and fling screaming monkeys across the room as soon as utterly possible. I feel strongly that this should be as regular as vitamins and much more regular than colonoscopies.
Three years ago I sat solemnly at a beautifully wrought tea table at an exquisite tea shop in China. The shop was in Li Jiang and was off the 'Long Nose' streets reserved for tourists. My friend and guide had lead me there after I asked for a shop that carried the best tea in the region. This region specializes in Pu'er tea. Very particular and very wonderful, Pu'er is one of the few teas known to get better as it ages and is becoming wildly sought after now as collectors develop a taste for it in larger cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The tea is thought to have health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and aid in digestion while having less caffeine than other drinks.
We sat and sampled various ages and types of Pu'er, ranging from newly picked, to aged 15, 25, 50 or more years; treasures in the world of tea. We drank from tiny glass bowls each carefully prepared and bowls rinsed after each taste. Each year and region has a different mouth feel and aroma as we sipped. Some were beautifully perfumed but astringent, others were softly fragrant and smooth as silk. Some teas reminded me of wind and water while others tasted of earth or metal. For a tea connoisseur (snob) like me, this was heaven.
I ended up choosing one very old and one very young tea and with each tea came instructions. The young green Pu'er was to be held on the shelf for no less than two years, I had to promise, or it would not be at its best. It was a loose-leaf in a tea canister. Even then, it was a heavenly tea, grown near osmanthus blossoms before harvesting. My guide said that in this region the saying went:
Something that sounded a little unsanitary to my American ears as I silently vowed to be more cautious with my food around here.
The second tea was a 15-year Pu'er, wrapped carefully in brown paper, it was marked with a special seal of its true age; required if well known sellers wanted to continue being respected for their product. This tea was like no other. It's smoothness and aroma filled my head and I couldn't believe how a couple of leaf juices could taste so different. This tea required me to make another more ominous promise:
"Don't ever, ever leave teas next to your face creams, it will ruin the flavor of the tea."
What was that? I asked my guide, did I understand that bit? Why would I leave my tea with my face creams? I smiled to our host and teasingly said in Chinese,
"My husband would think me very crazy if I put my tea with my face cream."
She replied sternly,
"Well just in case, you must promise not to."
No problem, my tea is well away from face cream.
Now it is 2009. I faithfully kept the young green Pu'er in its tea-can aging for almost three years and have just made one cup from it and it is fabulous, everything it promised to be. I've also chipped away at the cake of the older tea, not wanting to use it up too quickly. I like these teas when I am working or painting. I have kept my promises...Until last week.
I was in a hurry. I had to clean up. I was insane. There was my tea, out on the counter near a box. I quickly grabbed it and tossed in into the box. After a little while I came back looking for my tea and looked in the box. To my horror, there was the tea, nestled all comfy like with FACE CREAMS! of all sorts and sizes. How could this happen? My tea was next to my face creams. I could feel the sharp shiver of the tea lady, asleep in Li Jiang dreaming, someone had put there tea in with face creams...THEY BROKE THEIR PROMISE.....
And why? Why was the tea anywhere near the face cream?
Well, the tea was on a gigantic ornate dresser that our landlord left when he moved.
The dresser is in the hallway next to the master bathroom
As I mentioned I like to have it at hand when I paint.
And my master bathroom is where I've set up my studio.
Because the master bathroom is larger than several of the bedrooms and has more light.
Its silly to not use all that space.
But there are still quite a few boxes not unpacked in the bathroom
And there are still a few unpacked boxed on the giant dresser
INCLUDING THE ONE WITH FACE CREAMS!
I am devastated, how could this woman have know that three years later, somehow these teas would suddenly and inexplicably be joined with face creams? Perhaps that is what I get for setting up an art studio in the bathroom, or not unpacking boxes for 6 months (probably the latter) But I shall brew up a special cup and offer it to the tea goddess to make amends juuust in case.
Next time it could be worse, the tea could somehow end up with the Docs dirty socks.
I’ve decided to begin an ongoing series in this Blog called “That’s not MY New York!” In tribute to all the people who say this when we tell them all the wonderful experiences we’ve had with New Yorkers since we’ve moved here. I dunno. Maybe New Yorkers have the biggest inferiority complexes in the world, who would have thought? But seriously, people don’t believe us when we tell them about all these great people, so HELLO NEW YORK----meet some of your neighbors.
Today’s story is about the Utility Company Woman. I’m not sure which utility. All I know is that she had a utility jumpsuit (blue/grey) and a utility belt and a utility van. The Doc and I were cruising around looking for a parking spot on the lower west side of the City and not having much luck (who’d a thunk?) We were on our way to a Shins concert, a very big deal for the Doc, one of his favorite bands.
The Doc was giving up hope and decided he would park near a fire hydrant. It was a little too near a hydrant for my comfort, so I jumped out of the car and asked this utility worker what the law was in New York for fire-hydrant-parking. The law is, in case anyone wants to know, 15 feet in any direction, and we were way too close.
So I thanked the Utility Woman and started to walk off when she shouted,
“Hey, why don’t you back up past my van, park were I am and I’ll just double park, no problem.”
I was all, “Really? Won’t you get in trouble? Are you sure?”
She just nodded and smiled so I ran back to our car to tell the Doc who looked at me like I was nuts, but we backed up and she pulled out so we could back in and everything was perfect. I jumped out of the car and gave her a big hug and said “Thank you so much”. She looked like she was going to faint. I figured that way we were square, one shock for another.
We happily started out to the concert holding hand down the sidewalk talking about how extraordinary the whole thing was when the Doc suddenly doubled over as if in pain.
“Are you OK? What’s the matter?” I said in panic.
“I forgot the tickets at home….”
PS We did get in buying tickets from someone selling them at about cost on the street in front of the theater but the Doc was only allowed to buy water for drinks….
One of the marvelous things about living in the Northeast is that one can take a fairly short jaunt to any of hundreds of places in a short time and feel as though you are in a completely different state, which you are. Sometimes physically and sometimes metaphysically.
Last week we took a short trip to a New Jersey beach, where I was roundly reprimanded because it's "Called the SHORE, THE SHORE, no will know where you're talkin' about!"
We stayed with the Doc's sister and brother-in-law and a passel, nay pack, of his relatives, mostly Italian, many jocks, all warm, friendly and loud about it. And as a bonus the food was to die for. At one point I mouthed and signed to my sister-in-law "How many are there?' She mouthed back, making a huge circle with her hands, "Hundreds, Hundreds..."
A little less warm and friendly for a weekend at THE SHORE was the actual shore. The winds were whipping and the temperature stayed in the 60's. However the wild and hardened denizens of the Jersey Shore were not to be stopped and there were plenty of people peopling the beach. Mostly though they looked like this:
Most of us wore jeans and several blankets along with our hoodies and towels. After a little while Mr. sun did come out, making it cold and BRIGHT. This changed the mood considerably as well as the scenery.
Everyone loves a man of mystery right? Hopefully this one's still alive. And why wouldn't he be? Because of this:
This is DOD. DOD contained a potent yet delectable mixture of rum, spiced rum, fresh lime, ginger ale and ice. That's it. DOD quietly spread its warmth through all the Italian blood and then ran nicely into some of the Dutch, English and German stock as well. While DOD still ran with goodness people were willing to brave the cold, the wind and the sand in the eyes. Once DOD ran dry it was just a little harder to bear the newly incoming storm and the sadly shivering children.
And so when the last drop of liquid was coaxed out, we quietly unburied the parts of our bodies not protected by clothing or towels, gathered in whatever wind protection we had set up, and like the people of the Mongolian deserts girded ourselves for the long trip to the car with our household upon our backs.
We plan to return to the Jersey Shore in a couple of weeks. This time we will come better prepared for the adventure with more blankets, hoodies, food and of course rum and limes. I'm pretty sure there'll be ice waiting for us.
Now that we've landed, arrived, found a place to set up beds and store our boxes (sometimes in the same place), shower and park our cars, I can set to starting this blog over again. I know, some of you are asking,
"Geez, how many times can she do this?"
and my answer is,
"As many times as we do as a family."
Which, by my calculations, should be around 8,395,836. However to make it easier to understand I have designed the previous post to help with the confusion and thereby enable us, you all and I and my cast of hundreds, to make a fresh start and begin the silliness once more under the same banner of Humor, Humanity and Vision. This time with the addition of bagels, lots and lots of bagels. And buildings, definitely more buildings. And did I mention the people?
There are more people waiting in this hallway than in many of the towns we've lived in. This group also contains more diversity than our children have ever witnessed in their lives.
We've had more people in New York ask us where we're from than any other place we've ever lived. Mayhap it's our non-accent, maybe it's our seemingly endless cluelessness about the city or possibly the fact that we smile and joke with people all the time. Or maybe it's because the girls and I favor pink instead of black which stands out just as much as if we had two heads and purple skin. If I say we've just moved up from Tennessee we get strange looks because EVERYBODY know we don't sound like thay 'at. So what gives? Thus the following map, which should explain everything. (right?)
Map should pop out when clicked on.