Saturday, July 31, 2021

Eh Cumpari, Ci Vo Sunari, Can You Dig It? (Yes I Can)

Another long walk, this time out to the Brooklyn Bridge Park.  These new waterfront parks are both amazing and odd.  It feels safe, clean and of another time.  Everything is new and people lay on the grass as if city rats aren't steadily living on it all night.  Families leave their bags on the sides of fields as if no one will come along and steal them.  

Instead of wall to wall bodies, we found the park inhabited but more like that of a small town.  
Braving the river waters on small boats is both new and freaky.
A class of young men with an instructor doing some sort of martial art training
The tiny 'beach' at Pier 4. Its always fascinated me to be where water hits the land particularly in this city.
We sat and envisioned these yachts probably housing the two Bennifer families 
They even have sandy volley ball courts 
Soccer game with a surly goal tender

The one thing the park doesn't have is food vendors.  We passed Grimaldi's, Shake Shake and a few other tourist traps for brunch before finding this retro diner from another dimension and time (1983) as well, called Park Plaza.  First of all it's a stand alone building with a hi-way sized sign, a giant family-owned oasis with outdoor seating for breakfast complete with doting manager, scurrying waiters and a genuinely mixed Brooklyn crowd.  Brooklyn can be a magical treasure hunt of adventure if you like to walk. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Let Your Soul and Spirit Fly Into the M(i)st..ick

Herb and Cheese Stuffed burgers on Pita
A quick trick to fun up a burger is to add a mix of fresh herbs to a healthy dose of salt and black pepper.  I added garlic, minced onion, and then stuffed it with more dill, cilantro, parsley, and Monterey Jack cheese, then slathered the pita with a chipotle mayo.  

Homemade French Fries

We went for a walk and got splashed by the Bailey fountain in Prospect Park.  When the water came over me, I couldn't help but consider if they recycle the water or if it's just old pee.  Such a gorgeous scene, this fountain always takes my breath away.  But due to the past years my thoughts instead went to viral loads and germ spread in the water.  I even cringed when the mist landed on my face.  Icky!

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

She Only Knows if Someone Wants Her

Red Sunflowers in Red Hook

A breakfast burrito with sausage, egg, cheese tomato and onion, rolled and slightly toasted. 
There was a woman who started working in my department several years ago.  She was very sensual, in an exaggerated nervous way.  Think a half Puerto Rican Jessica Lang in Blue Sky, with Tommy Lee Jones.   She was bold, buxom and had lots of tattoos, piercings and dyed black hair that she curled in big rollers.  She had a bright, white smile that gave off a false innocence, which worked in her favor.  At first glance, you didn't see the seediness but it was there, even back then.  As smiley and giggly as she was, I doubt people noticed.  No matter if later they said something demeaning about her, when men were in front of her, they turned twelve.  I'm pretty sure she was tricking, or lining up future 'dates', during her shifts.  She wasn't exactly a good coworker but I figured she'd come and go like the wind, and she did.  She was good friends with someone in the department, so through the years I see her from time to time.  
Even though her natural personality is that of someone who just downed 4 glasses of champagne, the next few times I saw her, she was more obviously inebriated than usual.  I formed this curiosity about her, an urge to study her from afar, because I felt such darkness, but I always rooted for her.  I got a little worried, you could see life taking it's toll much too quickly.  I was told she had a few children, one after the other.  I was also told by her friend, she had mental problems.   A few times she came in a little chubbier and less Amy Winehouse looking, now sullen and withdrawn.  What little I knew of her, she was one of those women that is always too concerned about some dumb guy that probably treats her like a rag doll.  Then the following visits became more apparent she'd developed a healthy drug problem. 
Coincidentally, on this day, I checked on my little tree that got struck by lightning during the storm months ago.  It's progressing nicely and recovering.  It had lost half of it's trunk and it's broken half lay on the street as cars rolled over it's leaves at that time.  Thank goodness it had the resilience to heal. 
The woman came in today with one of her children, a girl around 4 years old.  She was dragging her on the floor by one arm as the girls hair mopped the dirty floor.  I turned my chair to look because I recognized the voice.  The little ruffian's face and clothes were dirty and she acted possessed, hissing at us and biting at the air.  We all dropped our smiles immediately as we took in this little scene before us.  Our old coworker was shockingly thin and sallow looking.  She was slurring her words and I greeted her, pretending not to be horrified by her appearance.  Inside I began to cry but she was in that familiar drug fog when people stop noticing they're dying and instead go to retail stores looking for people that can loan them money, with children in tow.  

I keep thinking of her, how you can forget some people are living a real hell on earth and that your life is pretty darn grand in comparison.  That tragic desperation I saw in her beautiful smile years ago finally manifested itself and like one of those spiders that invade another insects body, so had her life in the Red Hook Houses snatched hers. 

As another woman on the planet, I can't help but mourn for her, another walking casualty in this city.   I want to believe that just as the tree, she can become resilient again and bounce back from this but I also know chances are not in her favor. 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Get Out of My Way or I'm Gonna Shove!

These were some of the fastest tostadas I've ever made.  Some days everything is a race from morning until night.  Racing to work on my bike and then racing home.   I've become cognizant of my road manners due to the uptick in violent behavior between strangers over the smallest of things.  The last way I want to go out is some driver getting pissed at a careless maneuver of mine.  I've also tried to adapt alternative words to use as not to curse at drivers and pedestrians, when they do something stupid.  You never know who's ready to pop off these days and it only takes one smart mouthed comment. That goes both ways.  
I'm learning to say 'whoa bear' and 'hey bear' instead of 'Mo*(%, get the f%^ off the road you @#$*%'.  That's something I've picked up from countless bear encounter videos. It's automatic to curse when you're so jilted and revved up though.  It's a hard habit to break but one that may save my life.  A runner, glued to her cell phone was on the bike path heading straight towards me, looking down, of course, as I turned the curve without enough time to stop.  I screamed 'look the Fuck up!!!' as we barely missed a head on collision.  In one of those crucial seconds, I'll admit, I was willing to hit her.  I heard a delayed 'sorry'.  But in seconds I was heart-racing mad.  Since the pandemic, joggers are acting like we're still living in solitary land, all over the roads and it must stop!  

So then further along the path a driver backed up in my green light at full speed, right in the intersection.  I had to swerve so quickly that this prompted another fight or flight response.  YOU IDIOT! I shouted, and then very quickly realized it was not a family in an SUV like I hoped, but 3 young men in one of those Escalade Caddys.  The driver rolled down his tinted window and my eyes said oh shit because he was not happy.  You shouldn't curse at anyone is the point, but the lesson will be when you do it to the wrong person and I prayed this was not that day.  I peddled as if in slow motion, like in a dream. I feared I was gonna get the shit kicked out of me or worse.  I heard the vehicle speed up behind me.  They are actually chasing me now.  Just as I felt them right on my tail, I slid into the fire station and thank God the guys had the gates open and were out talking on the sidewalk.  I skidded to a stop just as the car swerved over like they were going to hit me.  The driver yelled, F*!k You, YOU DUMB B*(@H!  And that was that.  Another close call from the universe.  I didn't look to see the firemen's reaction, I tried not to consider what if, I just got off my bike and walked it a block until my heart stopped racing and then rode home ultra chill.  

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Yo Sho'Nuf Do Be Cookin', In My Book

Burger Quesadillas 
One million years ago I went to lunch at The Evergreen diner in Times Square for 8 years.  There I discovered the cheeseburger BLT and I thought I might be in Heaven! Actually, that's what New York was at that time, a food heaven.  I felt as though laws were being broken, as it could not be legal to have both unique, delicious sandwiches together in one plate with coleslow, fries and a pickle. Pinch me!  Similarly, I made these cheeseburger quesadillas that were crispy and melty, with tomatoes and onions inside but then the juicy burger bite all seasoned up making it a glorious refreshing take on dinner.  
Another New Yorker, on the brain lately is, Jennifer Lopez.  This happens occasionally with celebrities, where they will take advantage of every media outlet to force you to pay attention to their ridiculously, glamorous lives.   First of all, my news feed is inundated with multiple pics of Jen on the beach, with her Zoolander Blue Steel focus, or kissin' on Ben Affleck, in love...again.  I can't help but consider this woman slash celebrity, who we mainly know now not by her musical talents, but fashion choices and her documentation of intense whirlwind love affairs.  She's the modern day Liz Taylor.  She is gorgeous, aging very well and I would say a successful (in the material world) businesswoman made more impressive by her humble Jenny-from-the-block beginnings.  Taking the 6 train, from the Bronx, Puerto Rican, all great New York things.  But with all of that, if you're like me, starting to form opinions that she may also suffer from a belief in fairy tale love.  

Who knows, it might be all worth it, to experience that heightened drive and drunk-ish infatuation with another human, if only for a short period.  But some of us out here are doing serious relationship time, hard time.  And we can't help but feel just a little insulted by this portrayal of 'true love'.  This may be a great fit as they were already drawn together earlier in life but the timing apparently wasn't right.  There was enough of a pull to come together again, so many years later.  Regardless, you know the sex is good at least.

I showed P pics of her in a bikini, stating she's 52.  Although I was gonna go off on how older women celebrities post bikini selfies that seem slightly desperate to me, (I'm talking to You Elizabeth Hurley!) he immediately shouts out, 'Doesn't she know there is NO WAY she can compete with younger women anymore'.  Oh.  Really?  Well, his reaction was so honest and quick that it shut me right up.  The words echoed back later, over and over... and over...She can no longer compete.  She, Jennifer, abs-of-steel, golden, round, natural assed- Lopez, has no chance?  Wow, really babe?  So many thoughts.  

HARD time, I tell ya.  A real relationship is when your mate says words that inadvertently kill your spirit but then you immediately brush it off because you remember he's just some dumb monkey incapable of being self aware.  As people, given the chance to spout off, much of what comes out of our mouths is a lot of bullshit, and I do include myself in this.  Um, so, no I believe you Jen, I'm just saying, Live with a human 30 years and then come back to me with these same romantic tales of finding the one. 
P finally painted the apartment as promised - Blue in bedroom and another shade in tiny kitchen, a more subdued light tea green in living room.  A great way to make a fresh start in an old, stale apartment. 
Sister Rach's Hollyhocks and backyard view in Colorado
My teeny tiny kitchen painted another blue, with removed old brown cab doors to mock open shelving, painted black doors  and also painted ancient rusty fridge , a fun mint green.  

Friday, July 16, 2021

Give Me Some Sugar, My Little Honey Bee

The easiest recipe from a 

I played around with this wonderful recipe.  Because it makes an abundance of amazing juices, I figured why not give it something to soak them up, other than serving over rice, which is a viable option.  Lackluster canned Cannellini beans become glorious baked beans in this Honey Garlic Chicken party.  Use the Crock Pot to avoid heating up the kitchen.  Add tons of chili garlic sauce to give it kick.  Brown the chicken first to 
 keep it succulent.  

How to eat less meat while your mate goes full on carnivore?  A solution to this recurring problem is to find a way to transform the vegetable or grain side into lunch meals. I'd make a pot of something to last a few meals, save time, all good, only to find all the meat was gone and suddenly it was no longer a doable dinner option.  So now, what's been working is after the initial meal, I separate the meat and I supplement the vegetable or grain.  For example, I added kale and roasted cashews to these flavorful beans. Its surprising how delicious homemade food can taste in a work environment.  Why not allow it to go where it's appreciated?    

Clear Blue Skies, Eighteen Inches of Rain

Road Trip - Lake Taghkanic
The heatwaves (plural) this summer came on very early, end of May, early June.  So by mid-July we couldn't get out of the city fast enough!  Swimming can be tricky in the Pandemic, so we picked a lake far away that would not be as crowded and had not been overcome with bacteria, another new horror.  In the extreme heat I guess bacteria levels in stagnant waters becomes so high they regularly need to close the lakes.  This is spring-fed and large, with clear water that you can see fish swimming right at your feet.  But rain and clouds as well as freakishly unusually cooler temperatures than normal followed us all the way.  Not willing to waste the day, we went to survey the park and laid out to read on the beach for a bit, knowing it might be a wash out, then the winds picked up and it started sprinkling.  The fresh-faced concession stand kid tried to squash our dreams by laying out the gloomy forecast for the next days.  Yep, he said, gonna rain ALL day tomorrow.  Should be a real ghost town.  Shut up, kid, we need this. But taking a drive and being out of the city was enough.  I looked for record stores and thrift shops in the area. 

Casa Vallarta
And of course.... local restaurants.  Hidden within this mini-mall facade, was the gem of the trip, a festive Mexican spot with high ceilings, bright walls, good music and real Mexican waiters.  The food was delicious and the plates were large.  They started off with a small bowl of beans with queso and pico as a dip, a simple touch that I loved!  And salsa of course.  
A combination plate for the lady - tostada, enchilada and chile relleno
P had the Fajitas with enough steak to feed a village!  The waiter had just arrived from Baha California Mexico just 3 months before. His English was rough, so to even things out, we spouted out our embarrassing Spanish.  Somehow we bonded quickly with his bright personality and wit. He started the evening with saying, Would you like a surprise?! and brought P a tequila chaser for his beer.  Later I figured it was a scam to sell more drinks but the atmosphere lead to lively conversation and laughter that only a good vibe can bring.  Whatever happened at that restaurant, genuinely made it feel like a real vacation, like we were transported to a Mexican Villa instead of the cold, dank mall.  When we left I wanted to hug that waiter for turning the gloomy day around.  Instead, I ended up giving a clumsy COVID elbow bump while juggling my to-go bags, eyeglasses, mask and purse.  I left with the signed check so he had to run after us.  More awkward mayhem ensued before finally leaving. 

Green growing on top of green to where it blankets every inch.  

While the weather was crappy, we drove around and explored some of the cabins in the state park on back roads that suddenly felt like a camp for serial killers.
The tents were set up on these elevated podiums and were covered with tarp, I guess due to all the rain but that made the whole area feel eerie and dank. Is dank a word? 
Michael's Diner for breakfast was perfect...for me.  P got the hash and eggs, which proved more giant potatoes with only hints of corned beef strewn in.  I got the biggie girl breakfast with pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, and potatoes!

I shared some of my bacon.  It's the right thing to do. 

One evening we dressed for a night out and drove to find the only place open was a chain restaurant called Texas Roadhouse, next to Party City, but this was no party.   Reluctantly we entered the ginormous establishment, where we were put on a virtual waiting list.  A half an hour wait, approximately, the lady said.  Suddenly family after family came pouring in.  All seemed to be 4 or 5 in number with toddlers and crying babies.  We all sat lined up on these long benches facing each other as if in purgatory.  If we had to be in there two more minutes, I feared losing a part of my soul.   We blasted out of the giant doors into the brightest, hottest day and high-tailed it to Wendy's and brought the hot sack full of fun back to our room.  Chili, a Frosty, fries, Coke, along with a new Bourbon Bacon burger made the experience all better. 

The following days at the lake were extremely weather perfect.  We did a pedal boat ride to the middle and P jumped off into the deep lake.  In a previous visit I learned this can get scary quickly as one needs to pull themselves up onto the hot rough surface of the boat from neck level.  I barely made it last time, so decided it wasn't for me. Once P was safely back on board, being in the middle of that deep lake with absolutely no noise was everything. 
With this view, you forget you're still very close to the city but the big dumb beach family near us was a quick reminder.  With their thick Brooklyn accents, this group of adults had this half hour joke session on Black Jesus, what a ridiculous concept it was.  The mother began loudly singing religious hymns with rap lyrics.  It was beyond comprehension.  I wanted to scream that Jesus was most likely a very dark skinned Middle Eastern Jew but what he WASN'T was an ignorant asshole, so SHAAAAT UP YOU MOUTH!!  You can't escape rowdy morons, but you can move your towel.   We were there to relax and that is not a battle you can win. 

A free hotel breakfast meal brought up to room to have in bed. So nice, so grateful. 
The second best culinary adventure was a nice Italian family restaurant off the road.  The waitress was super surly until P got her all gooey and giggly, somehow.  She wasn't having any of me, but I didn't care because the food was exactly what I craved.  P got the Chicken Parmesan
I got the fresh baked Calzone and it was perfect. So good.  The heat was thick that night, so the big open dining room was cool and refreshing. 

The scenery upstate is everything you read about actually.  The farm settings and the small quaint towns, the mountains.  One can feel shocked that the beauty still exists.

As always P whizzes by everything a million miles an hour and I take moving pictures, pointing and cranking my neck constantly to admire.  He hasn't yet learned to stop and smell the roses, let's just say.  He's still and maybe always will be that 70's dad on these road trips. 

We found a hip little town with an open breakfast spot, near the 'river walk'.  I got the grilled polenta breakfast topped with eggs, pesto, shaved Parmesan, onions and mushrooms.  Could be too much going on but I loved it nonetheless. 
P got a simple omelet, bacon and potatoes, toast

The River Walk - which was just that, a path along the river, instead of what I thought, an avenue of shops and restaurants.  But after breakfast, it was actually cool to walk down there and look at the fast moving stream.  Again, we do these things in 2 second intervals because my man has no patience.  
The diner spot recommended by the dispensary up the road

Back to the city.  A mishap read on Google Maps lead us to an hour detour.  Just as the visuals changed, so did the atmosphere around us and in us.  The air conditioner on my side was not working and we drank all of the water in the liter bottle.  I lost most of my ability to sweat and we argued about who's fault it was that we listened to Google.   At one point, we were in wall to wall traffic going the wrong direction and we turned to look.  A giant dead rat was propped up at eye level on one of the light posts a foot away in the median, posed as if he was to pounce inside at any moment.