Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Tulip Time!

As promised/threatened in my Sheepshead Bay post, here is a random assortment of tulips in the Ditmas Park/Midwood neighborhood. Tulip time doesn't last too long, and boy, did I enjoy my tulip safari on the weekend before last.

And I just don't have anything more to say about tulips that they don't say for themselves way better. Click on the first photo for a slideshow view. 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Sheepshead Bay - by bike!

A couple of weeks ago, TQ came out to the living room to find me looking glumly at a map of Brooklyn.

"Planning your next walk?"

"Sort of. Trying to figure out where the nearest salt water is."

We live in a neighborhood right smack in the middle of Brooklyn. It's beautiful, with lovely homes and lawns and big trees and gardens. It's a great neighborhood for walking, and (as you know if you've visited this blog at all in the last few weeks) I've been getting the biggest kick out of watching the Spring floral progression, snowdrops to crocuses to daffodils and cherry blossoms and now well into tulip time (yes there will be a Tulip Time post, of course there will). But I'm really starting to miss the waterfront!

Sheepshead Bay is within walking distance from home, but it's a bit of a time commitment on foot, and except for the medical stuff, I've been respecting the rules about public transportation being for essential personnel only. I was thinking maybe the inland end of Gerritson Creek might be a little less of a hike, and there's a little nature boardwalk there that might offer some nice birds. Still not exactly nearby, though.

But TQ had a great idea - why didn't I borrow his bike? He hadn't used it in a while so it needed a little attention, but he got it dusted off and the tires blown up and as soon as he had it ready to go, I went for a shakedown cruise up to Prospect Park.

No salt water there, no, but I've done a lot less biking than your average middle-class suburban raised person as the home in Hawai'i was on a steep hill, a most beautiful place but not bike friendly at all, except for the occasional serious biker who would go slowly puffing by up the hil, working hard in low gear, reappearing a little while later going back down, an elated flying blur with wheels just zzzzzziiiiiiizzzzzing along at maximum speed. My dad got a bike to ride to work at Pearl Harbor at one point, but that didn't last too long - I don't think the concussion after the 10-speed's skinny tires hit a storm drain the wrong way one unfortunate day was necessarily the end of it, but eventually he was back to driving.

The only time I remember being a normal 70's kid going everywhere on a bike (which was actually a magnificent chestnut horse, although it would've looked like an orange 3-speed to the average grownup) was during our brief sojourn at Mare Island Naval Shipyard. Flat as a pancake, and about as safe for free-range kids as anywhere you could imagine - I think the whole family got bikes and my friends and I went all over the parts of the base that didn't require active duty ID's for access. I remember that as being great fun, but that was just a couple of years.

So i am not super super confident of my biking skills, and I've always been scared to ride in NYC because of the traffic. Things are of course very different now, but I still thought that keeping my first ride in really familiar territory and in walking distance of home seemed like a good idea.

First ride went great. For the 2nd ride I thought of Sheepshead Bay - but decided to do one more test ride up to the park, this time adding the loop around the park for a little more mileage. That went fine, too.

Then we had a whole stretch of sloppy weather - rain and/or high winds and I went back to hoofing it.

But today was finally absolutely glorious and I had a wonderful ride down to Sheepshead Bay and back! Click for detail. Love this part of Brooklyn! 

I got a later start than I'd hoped so I didn't take too many pictures, but I did stop to watch this mama swan on her oh so urban nest :( having a nice preen in the sun. Gorgeous day!

Tomorrow it's back to drizzle, but I was thoroughly happy with today's ride.

And can't resist linking to a very fond memory from one of my long walks to Sheepshead Bay - How To Share Your Chowder With A Dog. Miss that girl.  

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Brooklyn in Bloom

Still thoroughly enjoying watching Spring unfold this year! I went for walks both days this weekend, a shorter one combined with grocery shopping on Saturday and then a nice long one (5 miles plus) today. Yesterday was overcast, today breezy & sunny although clouding over a bit in the afternoon.

I always love sharing pictures of my neighborhood because it just doesn't look like what people think NYC is supposed to look like - and right now I'm really glad that I live in such a great neighborhood for long walks.

Click on any photo for a slideshow view. 

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Taco Time!

Warming up the tortillas, steak staying warm on the smaller burner

Aside from the medical appointments in midtown, I've pretty much been following the NYC social distancing rules. I'm actually a little bit on the introvert side - the sort who enjoys socializing but does need occasional down time alone now and then - and TQ's good company, so I'm doing OK with this. Working from home is a bit strange, I've always resisted that because I like work to be work and home to be home, but I'm dealing, you kind of have to. I'm into an OK rhythm - I work, I read, I've done a little drawing, I go outside for exercise (considered an essential activity) and fresh air. As I think I've mentioned before, I have really been enjoying watching Spring spring in my very pretty neighborhood!

My only shopping these days is the grocery store, but I was never big on shopping as recreation anyways. The local grocery stores have been generally well stocked after the early panic buying, although you do still need to be a little flexible; TQ and I both like to cook so we've been eating pretty well!

I have NOT been able to participate in this much-vaunted Stress Baking of which I have heard tell due to the fact that our gas has been off since the gas company detected a leak in early February. Boo. Gas leak is of course serious business, and once National Grid has had to do an emergency turn-off, there's a fairly complex set of requirements to meet and inspections to pass before it can be turned back on. The building management estimated probably about 3 months and provided all the affected tenants with double hot plates. We've supplemented that with a couple of camp stoves (used with the kitchen window open and a fan running for good ventilation) and a crock pot, and we've been getting by OK. Management and our super super have done a really good job of keeping things on track - they're up to one of the final steps, getting a city inspector; that may be harder because of the coronavirus shutdown, but in the meantime, definitely not starving. But no baking on a whim.

However, I did get an achievable whim while shopping the other day - suddenly decided to cook TACOS! This is DEFINITELY a shutdown thing - ordinarily I just wouldn't think of making my own tacos because we have plenty of good Mexican places nearby. Even now, I could have gotten much better tacos from Tacos El Paisano, the taco truck that parks near the Newkirk Plaza subway station in the evenings, I've stopped there a number of times on my way home from work back when we all commuted and their tacos are really good - but I was shopping, they had some nice little chuck steaks, and I got those, a sweet onion, cilantro and some tortillas. TQ picked up the lime I forgot and the avocado I forgot I forgot on his way home from work, I put together a melange of spices that seemed appropriate for the steaks, and the came out pretty well! I made rice and beans, too, managed to juggle items so I didn't need to use the camp stoves. The cast iron collection got a workout (and so did I, juggling all that cast iron)!

And I had so much fun with the fixin's - started slicing and dicing things and had to get out ALL THE PRETTY BOWLS. Doesn't this look nice? 

Final result - nowhere NEAR as good as the taco truck, but not too bad.

And of course I made about 150% more fixin's that we needed for one meal, and I had one more beautiful chunk of striped bass from an October fishing trip with a Sebago friend that I'd just thawed out for lunch (big enough to share but TQ is not a fish fan so it's all mine!) so for yesterday's lunch - fish tacos! 

And then this morning, the fixings just kept giving - this time it was TQ's turn, I never would've thought of putting cilantro in with sausage & peppers, but OMG, it was delicious! So glad we are both cilantro fans. 

So that was a fun experiment. And btw - here is what the original fish looked like. I didn't catch anything but the way my friend Jonathan handles fishing trips he organizes fir his friends is the catch just gets split 3 ways - and with his other friend catching this enormous fish (missed being the "pool fish", the biggest fish of the day, by THAT MUCH) there was plenty to go around - and it was delicious! Beautiful day on the water, too - more photos here, if you missed it the first time.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

2nd day of necessary travel - Iconic Buildings and Empty Streets

36th and  Park Avenue, looking north

April 2nd I had 2 more appointments at NYU Langone. I took my camera along again, of course!

The day before, I hadn't been able to resist the boat ride. Day 2, I knew there would be a good bit of time between meeting with my oncologist and the 3rd test that was scheduled, so I decided to do a little walking around the midtown east neighborhood where the Perlmutter Women's Imaging center is located. I've made a lot of visits up to this neighborhood since my first diagnosis in 2015, but I always had to get back to work - I would look at the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building as I came and went, and I would think the requisite oooh and aaah thoughts, but I never took a camera. This time I knew I would have time to get some nice photos of these iconic building, and I also really wanted to get some of those empty street photos that represent this strange time in NYC so well. I am going to do some descriptions on these, but click on any photo for a better view.

This second photo isn't that great, but I'm including it as it shows an experiment that only ran for around 10 days. Certain city streets were closed to vehicle traffic so that residents could use them for walking - the idea was that sidewalks could be too crowded and this would encourage residents to get out for exercise (considered an essential activity) while maintaining social distancing. It ended up not being very popular, and it took a lot of police to maintain, but it was really interesting to see Park Avenue like this during its brief stint as a pedestrian mall. 

More Park Avenue cherry trees

Looking north on an empty Lexington Avenue. Middle of the day on a weekday, this should be full of traffic!

Caught my eye as I was walking north

Heading towards the Chrysler Building

Chrysler Building

Chrysler Building and its neighbor to the south, the Socony-Mobil Building. I've always liked the almost quilted effect on the steel panels with which this mid-50's landmark building is clad.

Time to wander meant time to discover historic surprises on the side streets in the area - neat!
This was hung outside of an Indian restaurant and caught my eye, and of course I wondered what the significance was. I did a little Googling later, and it turns out to be meant to either ward off bad luck or possibly lend a healthy quality to the air around it - either one most appropriate right now. Click here for a variety of explanations on the Quora q and a website. Also found a really yummy looking northwestern Chinese place a little bit south of here - test #3 was one of those barium milkshake ones where you can't eat for 7 hours beforehand, so I just tortured myself reading the menu, then went back later, ravenously hungry, and ended up buying enough food for me and TQ for half the week! Sorry no pix but I'll give 'em a link, Dunhuang Noodles had some really scrumptious food! 

Another side street in the area

I just liked this

And last but not least - the Empire State Building. I've taken way more pictures of this one than the Chrysler Building, but hey - it never gets old!