Every year around Art Child’s birthday, we head downtown to the big art supply store so she can get some new supplies. This year I brought the camera. Note the green metal panels over the windows in the alley shots. I was told those were to protect the residents in case someone dropped an atom bomb on the city. Along the lines of being told to get under your desk in case during the old air raid drills. Not that I would remember such a thing, of course.
Since Husband drove us, and we were already downtown, heading over to the village for a slice was a given. Later shots are along the West Side Highway, headed back uptown.
And a few more random photos taken on my way to PT.
Sure things get caught in the trees year round, but in the spring, there’s a ragged plastic bag for every other tree.
Between my current limited mobility and my perpetually limited budget, I decided it was time to unpack the flower pots and containers, and revive my role as (urban) Farmer Fringe. Ok, so maybe half the pots were just sitting out on the terrace, and hadn’t actually been emptied since I last used them two years ago. I confirmed with friends who know how to garden and my special friend Mr Google that I could reuse the old dirt, mixing in new and some food. Fertilizer. Whatever those little pellets are called. I used my little gardening tools (no, I don’t know their names either) and attacked the old dirt to loosen and aerate the old soil, and remove the long dead plants that I certainly should have removed long ago. I always mix up perennials and annuals, so honestly I’ve never bothered to pay attention to which category I’ve planted. The interesting part is that in one of the pots, I could tell what had been in there (nope, don’t remember what) was the type that could grow back, because the dirt was different. Once I got below the first few inches, the soil was darker, moist, and seemed live. Is live the right word? I’m thinking in reefing terms, like live sand.
A couple of months ago I had purchased some flower bulbs that I found on sale. Husband drove Art Child and I to the big box store in the Bronx so I could get fresh soil without going broke,
I may need this to be a miracle.
and some seeds.
Appropriate for this zone? I dunno.
I also found this neatogroovycool seed starting kit.
On sale, it seemed worthwhile.
I know myself well enough to know I’d never remember which seed I planted it which little pod, and I surely wouldn’t recognize the sprouts, so Art Child labeled Post-It flags for each square.
Unfortunately I didn’t account for the havoc the moisture would play on the ink and the glue. Going to be sprout surprise!
Nor did I account for the energy and physical effort required to get the seeds and bulbs planted–even though I did all from a chair, and spread it out over three days. One of the bulbs planted needed to soak for a few hours before being planted. By the time they were ready, I couldn’t bend at all anymore, so I waited til the next day. Wow, do those things absorb water! The next morning, they were unrecognizable. It’s possible I planted them upside down.
But look what’s happening now, a week and a half later!
Urban gardening at its finest
One last photo, just because the other morning sunrise felt especially promising.
I will hold this moment in my head as I do battle with the PT exercises.
I refuse to turn towards the terrace and see the snow. The snow that’s been falling and sticking for hours now, on this Sunday, March 1st. Nope, I’m not looking, and neither is Art Child, or the dog. Instead, we’re all watching the tank, pretending we’re on the beach. Join us.
Oh, Sunday. It isn’t always true, but today is a blissful day of nothing needs to be done. So obviously, my best plan was to get up and stand at the stove to make 8000 pancakes. That’s ok, because I’m still in my pajamas. 9 in the morning, in my pj’s with saltwater mixing for tomorrow’s water change, I must be dreaming. My back tells me I’m not.
It’s also Man Child’s last day at home before he heads back up to school for *whee* his last semester of college.
On my way home from taking the girl to her art class yesterday morning, I took some photos. For the first time, it occurred to me why I set so many of my stories at this time of year. Let’s face it, late winter in New York–not sexy or invigorating, not pretty or enticing. The dominating colors are gray and gloom. The season of train delays and wind tunnels, when I walk with my head down, hood eliminating all peripheral vision and calculate the odds of getting clipped in the head by a chunk of ice falling from a building.
A good time of year for hibernating, spending the day without getting dressed, thinking about what we do and why we do it. Because I have this ridiculous compulsion to make up characters and write them down, it dovetails nicely with the introspection.
Yes indeed, I do have a new character who’s been knocking at the back of my brain. At the moment he’s barely more than raw, a yummy mix of foolish and ludicrous. I may have to bring him forward soon, see how he can take shape.
For now, I have filthy-New York-in-February photos for you. Enjoy. And have a pancake while you’re at it–since I took this photo 20 minutes ago, my kitchen was apparently invaded by pigeons, and there aren’t many left. I’m going back to my beach house in Hawaii fantasy.
Little Incredibly Dumb Dog knows what to do with a snow day.
The Northeast was expecting the blizzard of the year last night, with predictions of epic snow accumulations. The NYC DOE announced public schools would be closed for today, and the city effectively rolled up the sidewalks at 11pm Monday night. A big deal. A very big deal. Buses were taken off the streets, the trains were shut down. I took these shots yesterday around 2PM, just as the storm was picking up.
My Facebook feed was filled with photos of empty grocery shelves and menus detailing who would be cooking what, whose schools had been canceled when, most people moaning about the snow, harrowing tales of 3 hour commutes home during rush hour, slipping and inching down the roads.
As it turned out, the storm hooked east, and we didn’t get slammed here in Manhattan. I think 6.5 inches in Central Park. Now my Facebook feed is filled with moaning and groaning about the inaccuracy of the weather predictions, how the mayor was paranoid and jumped the gun, inconvenience, no school, no work, blah blah blah. First of all, it’s weather. Regardless of how sophisticated the satellites have become, they’re called weather predictions for a reason. Second, a lot of areas were slammed–not far from each other, friends on Long Island were hit hard, some in NJ were, some weren’t. And those up North of us are still being pelted. Third, so what?
Yeah, I said it. How many of us are so important (outside of emergency workers, snow removal, hospital workers) that the world collapses and people die if we don’t get to work? How many truly believe that one snow day is going to make or break the children’s test scores? Yes, it was the wrong call in terms of how much snow we actually got here in the city. But what if they didn’t announce school closings yesterday, and we got as much snow as expected, and it was announced this morning? Well, then everyone would be complaining about the late notice, many scrambling to figure out child care. If they didn’t tell everyone to get off the roads last night? Everyone would be complaining about how long it’s taking the city to clean the streets, not to mention the inevitable accidents and cars stuck on the highways.
It was odd for the subways to be shut down, it’s true. But my first thought was for the homeless for whom the subway tunnels and trains provide a relatively warm and dry place to be during bad weather. Six inches of snow and thirty mile per hour winds has to feel like storm enough when you don’t have somewhere safe to shelter you.
Are we so entitled that inconvenience is prioritized over safety? Is it really so terrible to have a bonus day off? Many won’t be paid for this day off, it’s true, and that sucks. Many more will work extra hard, and/or extra hours to catch up later in the week. But, oh, wasn’t it delicious to sleep an extra hour or two today? To go play in the park, or cook something special, or play a game with the kiddos, or just stay warm and dry? We are the only “advanced” nation that doesn’t guarantee its citizens paid vacation time and/or paid holidays. Huffing and puffing about the inconvenience of weather seems to fit right in with that philosophy. If you don’t have a hill to trudge up backwards in the snow pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps on the way to work, find one! I don’t think anywhere in the US embodies that spirit more than New York. The show must go on, after all.
I walked through Central Park earlier, watched others walking their dogs, sledding, taking photos, and smiling. I didn’t hear one person complain about how miserable it was to have the day off, even though snow flurries started up again while I was there. And I saw plenty still at work: in small businesses, police cars, driving buses, building maintenance and doormen, running the snow plows, shoveling the walkways for brownstone owners, and yes, even delivering groceries. I really hope whoever couldn’t be bothered to wait on line with the rest of us peasants yesterday are giving big tips today.
And watching Art Child listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan with Husband this morning? Priceless.
I think he’s beautiful, in all his lumbering majesty. Husband disagrees. In fact, I’m pretty sure Husband often thinks my eyestalks also veer in different directions, when the subject of beauty comes up. I don’t know what it is that makes me think someone, or something, is beautiful, but whatever it is, I have different parameters than Husband. Discussion a couple of weeks ago:
Me, “Remember that woman we met the other day? Isn’t she stunning?”
Him, “What, who?”
Me, “You know, that one with the black shirt on and the smile.”
Him, “Oh, I know the one. Wait, what? Beautiful? If you say so.”
and then he gives me the sidelong hairy eyeball, and checks to see if I’m feverish again.
We don’t always disagree on what and who is beautiful (we agree about our children), just usually.
I mean, I look at this little face and smile, what’s not to love about a cartoon character come to life?
It’s all subjective, right? Yah. That’s what they tell me. People, sea critters, fiction. I’m a quirky old gal, no doubt. Those quirks color what appeals, and I guess for me, beautiful equals interesting. But different people find different things interesting.
I’ve been feeling frustrated these past few days. Mostly due to nothing happening with the writing, blah, blah, blah. Every so often, a well meaning someone will ever-so-gently suggest I try writing something else. This usually involves an awkward, pregnant pause, and then the phrase, “mainstream.” Or for the bold, “marketable.” I have nothing against mainstream. I read and enjoy quite a bit of popular fiction. But it isn’t the way my mind works. And when and if I’m indulging my fantasies of earning a dollar from my writing, what the hell–I’m going all the way with what’s beautiful and interesting to me.
This morning I was in the shower, thinking about wanting to feel other than crappy, and I thought well, I can post another story here on the blog. I may not have representation or a publishing contract but I have Fringelings, some of whom like my stories. And I’ve got this one I particularly like, where I believe I got it right. I thought so when I wrote it, and of those who have read it, more than a couple agreed. I wondered, why haven’t I posted it before? Then I remembered I had planned to sub it to lit mags, in hopes of publication. This thought was immediately followed by visions of a slew of new rejection letters, because obviously a gal can never have too many of those. So then I thought hey, I can start my own lit mag!
Between my lack of credentials, lack of contacts, lack of funds, and skewed vision of beauty, it’d be a guaranteed success, no? After all, there are at least 2, 3 other people in this world of seven billion who share my tastes. Sigh. I need a new plan.
I’m watching and re-watching this video, loving the way she presents herself here.
And for those who might enjoy a more “mainstream” beautiful tank photo,
and he left behind more food than this fridge has hosted in months. I’ve been keeping the refrigerator sparse due to its now sensitive nature. Trying to coax it along for another year or so before I break down and replace it, but in the meantime, to minimize losses I try not to keep much in there at a time. Man Child came home last week, took one look, went shopping and got to cooking. And baking. Because he was leaving to do some traveling and meet up with Miss Music for the holidays, he wanted to be sure Art Child was covered for Christmas. She now has approximately 8001 assorted, homemade cookies to share with Santa.
There’s good and bad to having a large span of years between the first child and the last. The bad, I’ve kind of run out of steam for all the little extra touches during the holiday season. The good, the oldest doesn’t want the youngest to miss out, so he picks up the slack.
Having him here was great. A friend of his also came to stay for a couple of the days, so fun! I’m glad I’m no longer one of them, but the passion and enthusiasm of young adults can’t be beat, and we had a great political discussion one of the evenings. That’s the thing about allowing your teens to go to boarding school, there are fewer opportunities for these moments. So yes, even now that Man Child is in his senior year of college, I can honestly say I treasure these times.
He left, and Nerd Child arrived. I’m hoping he’ll play his guitar for me a few times while he’s home–another one of those experiences I wish I had more of–but it’s unlikely. And that is my fault, I get too excited. Really. I always tell myself I’m going to be blasé and just nod and smile, but then I burst with the fabulousness of it all, asking him to play another and another, and why doesn’t he sing, too? Mmm hmm. My enthusiasm is received like a zit exploding mid-performance.
Art Child and I got a little tree this year. Barely more than a table top. On the stand, it just about reaches my rib cage. It feels right. Low key. I haven’t done one thing to decorate the tree or the apartment. Honestly, I’m still too busy feeling the relief of the extra space.
Do I have to consider myself behind on the holiday shopping if I’m never done at this point? I say no. Besides, I’m still busy angsting (took 4 tries to type angsting, spell check is insisting I mean to write ingesting) over what I am or am not doing with writing and submitting, checking email 43 times an hour to see if I’ve gotten any responses.
I did drag myself away from the screen yesterday, spent some time in the park with Art Child to check out the bare trees and the holiday booths by Columbus Circle.
I’ll stick with tea, thanks.
I never knew horses could have curly hair. Fur?
The park, tony Columbus Circle, the artisan booths, older buildings behind, to me this shot caught NY.
Where’ve I been? Playing tour guide, of course. I mentioned a while back one of my longtime reefing friends was coming to visit. I’ll call her Bella, because she’s a beautiful person. She came, she stayed, we walked, we rode the subways, and I laughed a whole lot. And of course, lots of eating. On a tight budget, many of the more traditional attractions are off limits, but there is still plenty of NY flavor to be experienced. Gave her a New Yorker’s NY experience, complete with 5am wake ups and a high school open house. Whaddya mean that isn’t a real tour? It’s city life once you’re beyond clubs and late night bars when you aren’t one of the wealthy and fabulous.
I didn’t take photos of all the food consumed, but I’ll just say between me and one of our other reefing friends–I’ll call him Blue, because blue is my favorite color and he’s currently sporting a fabulous steel blue mohawk, Bella was able to experience a broad variety of international flavors unavailable in her southern town. Yah, yah she says it’s a city, but population < 30,000 = a town to me. The first day was all about the food–and a little walk through Central Park.
And the fauna
Look! An authentic city rat. Aw, c’mon, he’s just a little one.
The second, I took her to the Met–after introducing her to the subway, Metrocards, and a city bus. The Met is my favorite museum, and the admission price is a recommended donation. In other words, you can give what’s comfortable and still enjoy the full experience. Sort of. The Metropolitan is huge, I don’t recommend trying to cover the whole thing in a day. Better to choose a couple of exhibits and take them in fully. Which we did.
Beautiful art to see and study no matter where your eyes land.
Prints and copies are lovely, but there is NOTHING like seeing the real deal in front of you.
After the museum, I had to introduce her to a dirty water hot dog and a knish in front of the steps to the museum. I don’t care what your budget is or isn’t, what the weather is or isn’t, these are integral NY experiences.
oh, the pigeons!
Bella was able to explore further with Blue, traveling by subway to the outer boroughs, experiencing a smaller gallery exhibit, and even catching the LIRR to meet with another friend and see Oyster Bay. We had a small gathering of fishy friends at my place over the weekend, such a treat to laugh in person–and of course, show off my new tank. Our Long Island friend even brought me a cup of live sand from one of her incredible reef tanks to “seed” mine. Yes, we’re nerds and proud of it.
Yesterday was her last day in the city, so I took her back to Central Park and headed uptown, then to St John the Divine–one of the most breathtaking sights of the city, in my opinion, and certainly my favorite church. Bonus, it’s another “recommended” donation, you pay what you can to enter.
How is scaffolding erected with signposts and trees already there? Like this, of course.
Outside the cathedral, I never tire of this one.
I posted exterior shots here on the blog several months back, now I’ll take you inside. In addition to the incredible architecture, stained glass, community classes offered, and private school (love the way you hear children singing and giggling from below as you walk through the cathedral), it is used as a gallery, and there are usually a few temporary exhibits on display in addition to permanent ones.
One more exhibit I want to revisit before it leaves–and take Art Child and Blue with me–It’s a collaborative effort of interfaith and international artists (along with some other photos of the Cathedral mixed in):
Bella had only one request for me this visit, she’d heard me mention, maybe seen photos, of the rice pudding I make. No problem. It takes hours to cook, but it isn’t labor intensive. I made it on Sunday while she and Blue were out sightseeing, since they planned to come back here for dinner. Of course, my oven has been acting up, and when I dished out the pudding, more than half my arborio grains were, well, crunchy. Oops. We were still able to share and enjoy my favorite part of the new apartment. Sunrise or nighttime, clear or cloudy, it’s a hell of a view.
Recuperating, settling in, where do the days go? Happy Friday, Fringelings!
Welcome to my future beach house in a glass box. Remember that spot I said I was planning for a new tank? Fatigue came over last week, looked at it, and dubbed it the interrogation corner. He could have a point.
Where were you, on the night of the 25th?!
I will admit to being amused by the double take done by every person who’s walked into the apartment. I made a game of guessing a) if they would stop and stare or keep glancing at it, and b) how long before they broke down and asked. Hard to tell from this angle, but the tiled area is 4′ x 5′. Alas, I don’t get much company so the game lost its charm after a week.
Allow me to present the new future fringie reef.
Eventually this will be 80 gallons of sexy reefing goodness.
Even better, it’s in a prime viewing spot, easily watched from the couch and I can see it from my desk–though not so close as to be distracting when I’m trying to write. Assuming, of course, the rest of life settles down enough for me to write again. My desk. Have I mentioned that 100 times yet? It may not be a room of my own, but it feels pretty close.
A desk that isn’t my lap!
From this point on it will be slow going, for budgetary reasons and in the interests of good husbandry. The first commandment of reefing, “Nothing good happens fast in a reef tank.”
In case you’re wondering, poor Little Incredibly Stupid Dog hasn’t quite settled in yet. She’s still nervous, afraid of every new sound. Just breaks my heart, seeing how anxious she is.
I’d like to share her level of anxiety. Oh, and don’t tell Husband she’s on the couch.
If she could, she’d be dressing herself in black from head to tail.
And spent a couple of days looking at this view
Ok, maybe it’s true that an overnight in the suburbs with Art Child isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I imagined a vacation this summer, but I take what I can get. I needed to get out of the city, away from the waiting and waiting to hear about the apartment, because I’m a peasant. And apparently peasants aren’t worthy of timely responses, regardless of how much money is involved. And a couple of days of laughter with friends are always a good thing. Besides, look what I got to snack on while poolside
once I valiantly fought off this guy
Ok, I waited for him to finish and fly away, but I was still brave.
I floated in the pool, felt my freckles multiply, and watched Art Child turn blue having a great time
Don’t be silly, I don’t sub skate, but it makes an excellent flotation device.
Mr and Mrs Smitholini and I had dinner outside, and had a visit from a neighboring family.
Mr and Mrs Tick dropped by
with their children, Lyme and Disease
The four legged members of the household were particularly happy for the company.
She let the guests know exactly where they should go
while he watched her
and he wished they would both stfu and let him enjoy his massage.
Later in the evening, Mr. Chic–artist and model extraordinaire, third born of the Smitholinis, about to return to his art college– gave Art Child a trim. Her bangs are now perfect, she is beyond thrilled, and all is right with the world.
The following morning, I tried to snap photos of the bluejays chasing each other from tree to tree, but they were too damned fast. On the way home, we stopped in a new to us fish store, where Mrs Smitholini and I drooled over the gorgeous and healthy fish and coral. They even had frag tanks with very reasonably priced pieces (“frags” are fragments of coral reef colonies, a more budget friendly option than buying entire colonies for your tank, not to mention the thrill of watching a tiny frag thrive and grow into a colony in your very own slice of the ocean). I had a long chat with the manager about the latest in LED fixtures for the best coral growth, and then, in the back, I found they had the tank of my dreams. THE tank. 80 gallons of shallow reef goodness. I inspected the glass, the silicone, inspected the cabinet under the tank, climbed a ladder and peered into the back chambers. Mrs Smitholini stopped me from actually climbing into the tank. She’s always been my voice of reason.