Saturday, October 31, 2020

Was I In Your Dreams?

A full blue moon on Halloween had me fit to be tied with my usual brand of lunacy.  But thankfully, the extra that I was feeling this time came in the form of love and affection for friends and family, desire, and of course, hunger like the wolf.  I immediately dreamt of making my sister T's famous spaghetti and meat sauce with bell peppers, onions, tons of garlic, mushrooms, hamburger meat, and fresh herbs.  
I do however find myself lonely in a strange aching way, not necessarily for things I can easily pinpoint.  I miss the trusting way I feel in a familiar house.  I miss feeling easy.  When you're younger there are bountiful laughs and smiles to gorge on, until you have your fill.   I could never have imagined living without a hefty dose on reserve, like I do today.  That carefree strength you naturally carried or maybe it came in the knowing glances of like minded individuals but it was everywhere.  Now, there is an emptiness suddenly to the air, that is true.  People seem so disconnected and I notice more cold strangers than compadres.  It makes sense that if all resources are diminishing, maybe that includes love too.  Just like you can see beauty in the trees and even in grey city streets I feel like love can be found in quick exchanges with friends and lovers but it's not plentiful and sometimes leaves me so weary and weak for it.   I know it's not fair to expect it from others, begging for morsels of adoration or affection.  So it must be a sluggish mind that leaves me needing to be thought of, attaching such romance to frivolous thoughts.  And also explains how I could eat a giant plate of this good memory pasta like it was the body of Christ himself.  

Halloween neighborhood photos, some celebrational, others more serene. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

I Can't Tell You Anything, You Don't Already Know

Spicy Pork with Roasted Beets and Sauteed Beet Greens 

Beets with Feta, Olive Oil and Capers, Sea Salt are lovely!  I chopped and sauteed the greens in garlic and hot pepper flakes, finished with some Balsamic Vinegar.  The cubed pork was sauced with a mixture of soy, Hoisin, honey, garlic and cayenne. 

Pre-voting Quickie Breakfast of Ham, Eggs and Potatoes

It alway surprises me how some actions can really get you choked up and all full of feels. Firstly, our early voting location was at the gorgeous Brooklyn Masonic Temple, a short walk through a beautiful brownstone neighborhood.  It was raining in the morning, so we thought it a great time to head down.  We figured we'd wait in line for an hour or so but were able to walk right in, with no line at all.  And then inside it was like going to vote at your black grandmother's house. I could almost smell cookies baking.  Dozens of lovely, super-patient, helpful, sweet, elderly ladies guided us through the process as if we were grade school age on our first day of school.  And then at the end I hear 'don't forget to get your sticker baby'.  C'mon Man!!!  About the best experience ever.  We passed lots of folks en route to the polls and like many serious times in New York, people drop all of their social guards and talk to you, as we could all the time but don't, like friendly neighbors.  It was as it should be, celebratory and uplifting.   

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Yeah Love, Is a Long, Long Road

this post written on 11/4/20
It's funny that the outrageousness of the times will be named 2020 but it wasn't actually verbalized in my head until October and now it's almost over.  Seems so obvious now that this monumentally numeric year would have significance but maybe because of the let down that was 2000, I stopped connecting importance to the actual numbers.  Instead of concentrating on the negative, especially as I write this waiting on election results, I am recognizing the fun and lighter portions of the changes that came our way in this tragic year in relation to food.  For example since we're cooking so much at home, on top of using all of our leftovers which is definitely a positive, some cool creations have come about too.  Making a meal out of leftovers has always been a highlight for me but now it's legitimized by the Pandemic.  My poached egg on a pizza slice is now a staple menu item in my tiny apartment.  It isn't crazy to add a side of egg fried vegetable rice either, actually it was strangely the perfect accompaniment.  Taking cues from some of these amazing on-line vegan dishes I learned, many vegetables can be eaten together, spiced differently, roasted or fried, sauteed with raw, you name it. I had been looking for this evolution in music but it definitely happened in food.   And all the crazy works if by the end you are full and feel good.  Of course, I have far to go in making each of my meals more nutritious but due to the Coronavirus I am more committed to eating healthier.  I have been for some time, but it's a long road mentally going from eating to celebrate life, which is where I was born, to eating in order to be able to celebrate life.  I've always felt eating was an event in and of itself.  Now I'm trying to let it be the backdrop to a true festivity, even if it's for something as simple as quietly awaiting election results.  
So, 2020 has given me a deeper appreciation of all things great and small.  The details of life, like morning coffee or exchanges with friends, even washing the dishes somehow became meaningful and valued.  I know that so many horrid things happened this year but it may have nudged some of us just enough to fill with a new appreciation for life and hopefully a better ability to live it more fully. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Hey Joe!

I'm falling in love with Joe Biden.  Hearing, Anyone but Trump! on the streets and thinking man, IS this the best we could come up with, a senior citizen out of all those high spirited young hopefuls?  I should preface this by saying, I'm not someone that had paid attention to politics much in early life.  I'm a late bloomer to thinking the world had anything to do with me.  More so over the last 12 years but I do recall watching the bromance with Obama and how he really drew me in to appreciating the man that he simply called Joe, with so much affection and appreciation.   Obama made me realize what a responsibility it was to be an American citizen.  He once listed all Biden's incredible traits before issuing him the Freedom Award and that short speech told me more about Biden then any campaign message I have heard so far.  In short, he called him as good a man as God ever created. And the craziest thing is that Lindsay Graham said the exact same thing about him!  That is some high praise.  I'm starting to really feel Joe this week and more and more believe this isn't just anyone but Trump, but instead the best possible Presidential choice for this particular time and task, transitioning us all from Crazytown to a more rational, fair society.  History will tell but I do believe, if God willing, he stays alive and healthy that he will be a President for everyone.  
And these pizza slices were the best meal for a transition from work mode to in-for-the-night relaxation. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Easy to be Hard

Gobble Cobble Salads from Mr Mango bodega
I've been slowly breaking up with Fresh Garden, our corner bodega, for Mr Mango across the street.  It's nothing personal, in fact we love the owners of what we formerly called the fifteen dollar store because you were forced to drop that amount as a minimum for years.  But it's really all about the selection of produce, the freshness and variety.  Mr Mango even started carrying some chicken and Impossible meats. They often surprise you with a new vegetable or fruit that you can try because it's easy and cheap.  And now they are stepping up their prepared food game, like this fun, fatty salad with a pesto sauce.  Everything feels freshly made and you get enough romaine lettuce for two servings. 

I think the winner in most categories is Mango, with exception to ease of shopping.  They get crowded to the point where due to space restrictions each person has like 3 seconds to pick their choices of chilled vegetables before moving on or it can get ugly.  That stresses me out, so sometimes I choose to pay slightly more and take my time at Fresh Garden.

There is a man at work who is New York through and through.  His name is Mark and he's half Puerto Rican, looks white but speaks with a thick Bronx accent.  He sees me and always with his deep, guttural voice that is made shockingly high in order to, I guess, make fun of the way I talk, says 'Aaaaandy!' to which I make my voice as deep as it can go, say Mahhhhk!  His locker is next to mine and his voice so loud that I felt I knew him for a couple of years before even speaking.  I would hear him talk passionately about 'the game' the night before with male coworkers in a very brutish manner that I secretly enjoyed and wished I could be part of.  But as if he saw me as a baby kitten or something you had to handle delicately, he tried to make easy conversations about baked goods (I used to bring their department fresh baked brownies and cookies) or simply say 'how are you to-day' like I was reTAHDed or something.  Then one day he realized I loved music and now that's become the only topic.  There is a city stereotype that likes to bark questions at top volume but has no interest in hearing answers.  I, on the other hand, find myself many times sincerely answering to the backs of people walking away only to realize the question was rhetorical.  Mark likes to give choice questions, again, not to hear my answers, more a statement.  In the past it's been things like 'Top 5 rock and roll bands of all time!? Who's first?  Most times he proceeds to tell me the answer before I could even take a breath.  This goes on each week for years now, similar questions, many times asking just as he walks into the men's bathroom and I'm left there sacked stewing in my brilliant answers
Yesterday it was,  Aaaaandy! Doobie Brothers or 3 Dog Night??? Without hesitation I loudly and firmly said 'For me, 3 Dog Night.  I know the Doobies deserve it more but c'mon man, Bronx born, Puerto Rican Chuck Negron, 3 singers?!'  It, being the idiotic Rock and Roll induction award that has not been relevant forever but still riles folks up and I have to admit, usually sparks my curiosity.  As he slowly slid his work shirt over his yellowed wife beater and rounded beer belly, he looked at me maybe for the first time, hesitated and lost a little steam before proceeding with his own spiel.   I think I broke the Matrix.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Something Tells Me It's All Happening at the Zoo

After seeing a disturbing video of a raft of otters drowning a single monkey in an indoor exhibit at the Bronx Zoo back in 2007, I felt compelled to check on the animals post isolation.  The day was cold and drizzly but the park was empty so we basically had it to ourselves.  This provided some eerie as well as magical moments.  The animals tend to be more lively on brisk days.  The park itself is somewhat spooky in October, and what with the weather, the Pandemic and 2020, it was downright eerie.  I felt disoriented, as if I found myself in the middle of a dream, walking down empty paths, lost at times but the exhibits seemed to just appear out of the fog of wet greenery.  The old abandoned Lion and Monkey Houses although beautiful, give off a haunted vibe.  They're no longer used, so you walk past them to see the seals who are all by themselves at the end.   

Lots of the animals just do their thing but some seem like they're dying to interact.  The birds were super vocal.  The reptile house was so dark and abandoned that I imagined some crazy person hiding in the corners, so I rushed through.  There was a disturbed young girl in the primate enclosure talking to the monkeys right out of Central Casting.  She was pressed up to the glass showing them her lipstick and announcing each item in her purse by brand and color as she emptied it out, never stopping to take a breath.  She had a very unsettling vibe to her, so even though the monkeys are my favorite, we moved right along.  
At one point it began drizzling rain and we were rushing to find the Dancing Crane Cafe when we stumbled back upon the lions.  With no one around, a male was pacing and he began roaring to our delight.  He had this look for a second like he contemplated jumping that small trench that separated us.  
Unfortunately, the Leopard had that same look, frantically pacing back on forth on this high log.  I'm sure it's super irritating being taunted by a bunch of snot-nosed kids but I hope the animals aren't more stressed with minimal visitors around.  

The giraffes I've learned are super curious.  They like to come and take a look at you, which really takes you by surprise. They were outside busy hanging with the ostrich's but one did walk across the way to stand directly in front of us.  I took the moment in instead of snapping a pic.

There was this whole shakeup with the gorillas.  The big silverback came out of the blue and pushed and punched one submissive guy in the arm. The big gorilla seemed very upset.  Then the ape held and rubbed his arm as if showing the group he was hurt.  The whole pack retreated to a cave before coming back all at once in a line from the other side of the exhibit.  They stood in a circle as if they were having a meeting or there was to be some big decision made. 

Veggie Panini and a Double Cheeseburger 

The Bronx River runs through the park.  You'd never know you were right in the midst of this giant metropolis. 

The Rhino's are masked