Wanna Tour NY with Mrs Fringe?

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.

Fall flora

Fall flora

And the fauna

And the fauna

Look! An authentic city rat

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.

Beautiful art to see and study no matter where your eyes land.

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Prints and copies are lovely, but there is NOTHING like seeing the real deal in front of you.

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!

oh, the pigeons!

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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.

How is scaffolding erected with signposts and trees already there? Like this, of course.


Outside the cathedral, I never tire of this one.

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.

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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):

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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.




Ready for a walk?

Ready for a walk?

My plan was to write.  But it was beautiful outside, a perfect spring day.  So instead of working on the short story, I took a walk through the park and thought about writing, instead.  Sometimes this makes everything click into place, gives me a title and clear direction.  Not this time, but it was still beautiful.

I walked south, and ended up by the turtle pond.

When headed out of the park, I realized it was cat day.  Who knew? I’m kidding, as far as I know there’s no such thing, but I did see a few people walking cats.

This owner was trying to walk, but the cat was not interested in doing anything other than rolling on the ground, enjoying a dust bath.  Sadly, she wasn’t much more interested in posing for a picture, but wow, what a beautiful animal.

Some special breed, I didn't catch what.

Some special breed, I didn’t catch what.

I think the word leopard is in there.

I think the word leopard is in there.

And then at the exit, I saw this. He was eyeing a lively collection of pigeons and morning doves, then turned his attention to one of the old gated tunnels.  I think equipment is stored in there, along with many plump rats.  At first I thought oh, poor kitty is lost, he’s going to get eaten by a raccoon if he doesn’t find his way home soon.  Then I wondered if he was, in fact, a strangely colored raccoon.

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And this concludes today’s pictorial on the floral and fauna of Central Park.  Have a good Sunday, Fringelings!

Friday Whimper

Remember my last post, focusing on what’s been good?  Fuck that.  Somehow the three days since then have been 83 days in real time.  Just tell me when I can go meet Fatigue for Friday Night Madness.  In fact, I think I might splurge.  Skip the food and just spend all my dollars on a Kwak.  Because it’s delicious and makes me feel special, that’s why.

pauwel kwak

pauwel kwak (Photo credit: [puamelia])

It is Friday, that’s the good news.  Tonight, Fatigue will tell me about his acting class and his singing practice.  He will ask me about writing, and I will tell him about fixing-to-get-ready to query.  Then we will both contemplate, strategize, and ramble about how much is subjective, and analyze the week to find the bright and hopeful spots.  And of course, dog poop.  My beasts, his beasts, and any other beasts we walk.

I will remember that Loehmann’s is going out of business.  This is a big deal to me.  When I shop, I shop the discount stores.  Filene’s is gone, Daffy’s is gone, what’s left?  There’s Century 21, but their stuff is all higher end, so for me I can buy a splurge piece there, not replace my blown-out-in-the-knee jeans.  TJ Maxx, but I rarely find anything in there, and most of what I do isn’t stuff that’s made to last.  Yeah, yeah, I’m cranky today but I feel like this is another nail in the coffin of the working class.  “You’re a peasant, it’s time you dress like one.  How dare you want to wear something that isn’t lycra and polyester?”

And it’s just after the holidays, so it isn’t like I have any money to run in and see what they’ve got before they’re gone.

Goodbye, Loehmann's

Goodbye, Loehmann’s

I'll miss you

I’ll miss you

Together we will moan and groan about the state of the union, the dearth of common sense in politics, and–depending on how far into my beer I am at that point–I will likely rage about this case, which thankfully is over now, but has been weighing heavily on my heart and my mind.  It shouldn’t have been a case at all.  I’ve been wanting to write a post centering on it, but I have to wait until I can think calmly and clearly.  I’ll still be angry (wtf, politicians?  Get your head out of my skirt!) but I want to make sense, whether or not readers agree.

It is warmer today, though I’d prefer that didn’t mean the pigeons were out and bold and noisy.  They are, you know.  They make this obnoxious whirring trilling noise that is the auditory equivalent of their splatter.

So yeah, just hanging in to get to the end of this hideously long week, hoping nothing goes wrong in my house or Fatigue’s to prevent our meeting up tonight.

No shame whatsoever

No shame whatsoever


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Piss and Vinegar

English: Vinegar & Olive Oil

English: Vinegar & Olive Oil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mrs Fringe and guilt go together like oil and vinegar.  Sure you have to do all that mixing, blending, emulsifying to get them to unite, but once you do they make sense.  Unlike this analogy, but I’m under the weather and Flower Child is home sick today, so that’s the best I can do.  Besides, I’m a big fan of vinegar, have no less than seven  different kinds in the fridge at all times.

And I just had a little mishap on the terrace.  I keep a big jug of plain white vinegar for cleaning the reef tank equipment, very effective, inexpensive, doesn’t harm the critters–NOT that anyone should add vinegar to their tanks, reef or otherwise, but it doesn’t leave behind crazy levels of nitrites, nitrates or other nasties reefers don’t want measurable amounts of in our reefs.  I got a huge bottle at one of those big box stores for people who like to purchase 72 rolls of toilet paper at once, and left it on the terrace.  Because it’s big.  And I have a small apartment.  Well guess what?  Vinegar freezes.  And then it expands, and then the plastic bottle leaks, and then the terrace reeks of vinegar.  Maybe it will keep the pigeons away.

What was I talking about?  Guilt.  My most recent guilt episode is one that’s old and familiar, the guilt of slow writing.  Everyone has their process, I know this.  Some people write faster than others.  Know it.  But you know when you’re already feeling low, and then you read just the right thing to make you feel like shit?  And then you look for more things to read to make you feel worse because what the hell, you’ve been stuck and not making progress on the WIP, plenty of time to read about other people’s mind boggling daily word counts.  They are productive.  They don’t make excuses.  They are working on their 87th draft of their 120,000 word manuscript–pared down from 210,000–while I continue to watch the word counter at the bottom of my page stay at exactly the same number.  Which is still too far off from my 70,000 word goal of my first draft.  They are disciplined, they write, they earn money, they raise children, they work out, they save the fucking whales and feed croutons to the pigeons in order to soak up the excess vinegar.

Well I was stuck.  And I pondered.  And then I was more stuck.  And then I pissed and moaned and whined.  And then I stopped reading about the fabulously prolific and closed the open Astonishing file and said I’m taking a break until I’m not.   And then I found myself pondering again.  Yesterday I was able to unstick myself, wrote a little.

This morning I was cruising the writer’s forum and saw this link.  Hallelujah, I have found my people at last!  My perfect critique partners.  Ok, it’s true that all except one are dead, but doesn’t that sound like my pace?  Bed, grave, is there really that much of a difference? Just my speed.  Lying down is my favorite! and is there anything more secure than being in your own bed?

Couple in Bed

Couple in Bed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was inspired, wrote more than a little today but not anything another slow writer would boggle at.  Not in bed, in my corner on the couch, where I always write.  Half lying, half sitting, laptop on my lap.

Come to think of it, I got a new ottoman last week .  Maybe the next time I’m stuck, I can try writing from the other end of the couch.

Perfect height, on clearance!

Perfect height, on clearance!



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And the Shnozberries Taste Like Shnozberries

Oh, that Mrs Fringe is so immature!

And excited by dumb things.  Like the fact that everything is continuing to grow in my little shop of horrors terrace garden.

The lavender is far from flowering, but if you touch the plants, your fingers smell like lavender.  If you put your face to the container overcrowded with chamomile plants/flowers, it smells like chamomile!

Dumb, but a gen-you-ine small thrill to this old city gal.

Random photos for my Fringelings while I’m cooking the week’s doggie gumbo.

Hidden Dangers


I’m pretty sure the overt dangers of life in NY have been well covered by the media.  Overblown, even.


English: Heavily tagged subway car in NY in 1973.

English: Heavily tagged subway car in NY in 1973. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The trains don’t even look like this anymore.  As a New Yorker, I have and always have had a certain comfort level with the stuff that makes tourists clutch their purses.  Yes, I rode the trains at all kinds of hours, even when they still looked like the above photo.  Not only rode them, but I’d fall asleep–almost always waking up just as the doors opened at my stop.


Safety tips can be summarized quickly.  Look like you know where you’re going, and do so at a reasonable pace.  Don’t gawk.  Don’t be stupid (flashing cash, jewelry, etc).  Flashing boobage is questionable.  It’s legal in NY, you can’t be arrested for it, but I think we’ve got a little way to go before it’s safe to be a topless female waiting for the 4 train.   And oh yeah, watch out for subway grates when you’re walking down the sidewalk in stilettos.


In Central Park relax, enjoy, and don’t walk through by yourself after dark or before other joggers/bikers/dogwalkers are up and about.  Don’t pet the squirrels (nasty and rabid) or feed the pigeons (gross).  C’mon, it’s self explanatory. Same rules as NYers.  Don’t stare ’em down, keep moving, leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone.  Or be prepared to be the crazier one, but that’s another post.


Central Park

Central Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Occasionally you can spot a raccoon in the park.  Never heard of one that didn’t have rabies, don’t pet it, or send your dog after it.  I saw something in a tree staring down at me last week, I swear it looked like a sloth.  Tried to get a photo, but dusk in the park and my camera phone don’t seem to care for each other.  Sometimes there are other bizarre animals to be found in there that don’t belong at all, generally because some bozo thought an exotic pet was a good idea when it was cute and little.  Then it got big, angry, and tried to eat its owner, so Mr Macho decided to release it into the “wild” of Central Park.  Thanks.


Yesterday I learned something new.  There’s poison ivy in parts of the park.  Not only did I not know that, it never occurred to me.  For me, that’s under the category of “things to learn about if I go rural.”


This morning I was walking my beasts.  Not even 7AM, just walking down the street, not in the park, and we were accosted by a sparrow.  It has to be one of the most bizarre experiences I’ve ever had.  This little twit hopped out from under the orange netting of a construction site and chirp chirp cheeped at Little Incredibly Dumb Dog.  OK, I figure the thing must be confused, built a nest in the wrong place, I pulled my little fluffball away.  Then the thing went after Big Senile Dog.  Really?!  I can’t tell you how uninterested BSD is in birds, squirrels, etc.  I beg him to frighten the pigeons off of the terrace, but if they aren’t in his sunning spot, he just doesn’t give a shit.  He kept walking, in search of the ideal poop spot.  The sparrow chased after us, twittering and chirping and hopping while Little Incredibly Dumb Dog kept yapping, until the bird got Big Stupid Dog’s attention.  He, of course, decides it must be a pre breakfast snack and opens his mouth.  I hauled both dogs away as his teeth were about two centimeters from the little morsel, convinced we had come across a rabid sparrow.


I consulted with my good buddy Googles when I got home, it turns out, birds don’t get rabies.  Guess it was plain old New Yorkitude.

English: House Sparrow Deutsch: Haussperling S...

English: House Sparrow Deutsch: Haussperling Svenska: Gråsparv (Passer domesticus) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Mrs Fringe Learns to Internetz

Not really.  It’s magically working again, much the way it magically stopped working.  And then started.  And then stopped.


Internet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Come to think of it, this is just like the early spring we’re not having.  Someone find me that damned woodchuck groundhog, Imma make a stew.

I’ve been dreaming about moving to the country.  Husband thinks I’m kidding, but I decided I need a dream that could possibly eventually happen, not just the fantasy of a beach house. This would mean going north, colder but less expensive.  I feel the past weeks have been training for a rural life.  Internet out, multiple snowfalls in March…yup, I’m ready.

Since we started to have spring, the critters are here.  But now it’s cold again, and they’re more pissed than I am.  Even the rats are confused, I’ve seen at least three smooshed rats on my block over the past couple of days.  They’re usually pretty good at avoiding cars. Let’s be honest, though, better a smooshed rat than a live one.

In the park, lots of screaming birds.  I assume they’re protesting the lack of soft earth and worms.  But maybe not.  Maybe they’re screaming in fear.  We seem to have a new predator bird in the neighborhood.  (And when I say a new one, I mean new to me, they could well have lived here for fifty years without my noticing.  I also don’t know if there’s one or a dozen).  In any case, the other afternoon I was walking a dog along a path in Central Park when something whooshed overhead.  It was the coolest freaking bird I’ve ever seen outside of the colorful ones that live on people’s shoulders.  Cool enough for me to forget to be afraid.  I only saw it from underneath, beige, tan, and brown with an awesome, almost diamond pattern across its feathers.  Sort of the colors of the piebald pigeons, only not ugly.   The wingspan had to have been five feet across.  In between the internet being down, I googled, trying to figure out what this bird is. Almost a falcon, but no.

Another sign that it should be spring, Nerd Child is home for Spring Break!  Yay!!!!!!  I’m thrilled, Flower Child is thrilled, we miss the boys when they’re away.

What to do with your first day of spring break when you’re *almost* fifteen, home from boarding school and just finished finals?  Get up early, meet the priest who runs the middle school you attended, and go to the St Patrick’s Day parade, of course.

Green Bagel!

Green Bagel! (Photo credit: pirate johnny)

Nothing a Latino teen likes better than corned beef and green bagels.  My mother in law will take care of the obligatory flan this evening.  Why yes, flan is a necessary component to St Patrick’s Day.  Ask Nerd Child, he’ll happily explain flan is a necessary component to any and every celebration.

Apparently, while chatting, the priest mentioned ospreys have been taking out pigeons by the church.  Nerd Child came home and told me this, and I looked up ospreys.  YES!!!  That’s exactly the bird I saw in the park.  Already super impressive, and now I find out they eat pigeons?  Mrs Fringe has a new favorite critter.  I wonder if I can keep one on my terrace?


Osprey (Photo credit: Gregory Jordan)

Autumn in New York



There are clues that fall is here.  More stouts on the menu, pumpkin soup, boots instead of flip flops, and of course, it’s COLD!

And let’s not forget, New York City fail.

Glowing Gingko

Glowing Gingko (Photo credit: Puzzler4879)

Gingkos recognize that it’s fall earlier than the rest of the city trees.  Their leaves turn a beautiful shade of yellow, and the female trees drop juicy seed pods all over the sidewalk. If you aren’t familiar with gingko trees, you might not recognize the why I refer to them as a fail. They stink. I didn’t know what type of tree this was until I was thirty, because they’re referred to as vomit trees.  Yes, the beautiful “fruit” that drops continually from these majestic glowing leaves, splattering the sidewalks in competition with pigeon shit,  smells just like vomit.

See the tourists.

See the tourists head towards the pretty trees, cameras at the ready.

See the tourists look around, turning green, inching and then running away from the smell they can’t locate the origin of.

See the New York women.

See the New York women in their fabulous new boots, legs still bare.

See the New York women hopscotch around the smashed gingko pods more carefully than they skirt a subway grate.

See the problem?

Why do we have these trees all over the city? I don’t know.  I always figured whoever planned and implemented the planting of these trees was unfamiliar with this phenomenon, and now the politics of chopping down so many trees would cause too much of an uproar.  Except a couple of years ago, I saw the parks department plant more of these grotesque tricks two blocks away from me. Why, NY?

Big Senile Dog is a true chow hound. Completely motivated by food, he will eat anything that is food, could be food, smells like food, etc.  Several years ago he ate part of the bottom of a broken bottle on the street. Cause, yanno, it once held food. Even he won’t eat the gingko fruit.

Do you have these monstrosities in your area?

In case you’re thinking we could reap the benefits of the beauty and avoid the stench by planting the male trees, think again. The male trees can morph into female. Like clownfish.  Cute little Nemo is quite the sight when he decides he doesn’t want to be Nemette’s bitch anymore, and he grows larger, turns female, and kills her.


Mrs Fringe Takes a Day Trip

More like an hour than a day, but still. I was outside of my comfort zone, ok?!

Today’s post is pretty much snark free, photo intensive. I’m not much of a photographer, but I thought it would be cool to share.

There are free,temporary, often interesting art exhibits/installations mounted in Manhattan. This morning Husband and I went to see Discovering Columbus, by the Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi. He designed a living space around the 13 foot statue of Christopher Columbus in Columbus Circle. Normally this statue is in the middle of the circle, unnoticed and exposed to the designs of innumerable pigeons. The statue itself is on top of a granite column, reaching about 75 feet in total. To reach the exhibit (enclosed by scaffolding), you climb up 6 flights of temporary metal stairs, and then down another set after viewing.

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