Thursday, March 18, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jigity Jig

My east coast exile is over and I am back in the bosom of fly-over land and happy to sleep in my own bed and shit in my own bathroom - the basic comforts of home.

While my time in New York and Brooklyn was fun, I am glad to be back.

The snow is all gone, the temps have been in the 50 to 60 degree range and I am thinking gin and tonic season. Spent today scraping a winter's worth of dirt, grit, and salt off the garage floor. All is not rosy however. Sposed to be in the thirties starting tomorrow and continuing through the weekend. Maybe some snow. I will stay in bed under the covers.

It's time to think about planting things. I want to get some lilac plants in the ground soon and to seed what is now a muddy slope with wild flowers. I already retrieved the rain barrel that blew down the hill and put it back in its summer spot. Now I am just waiting for the buds to push out.

Yesterday, we went down to Park Point (a seven mile long sand spit that separates Lake Superior from the Duluth/Superior harbor) to let the dog run and I wound up tying my jacket around my waist and walking along the beach on the unmelted ice which occasionally collapsed under my weight, shooting water out the sides. It was a spectacular day for this part of the country in the middle of march.

It used to be that the ice pack would still be shoved into the western tip of Lake Superior well into June in a normal year if the wind was out of the north or northeast as was a common occurrence. Someday, Duluth could be a tropical paradise. There would be no one to appreciate it, but it could come to be.

Till then, I enjoy.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Heading Home

Well, it's been a slice, but tomorrow I must leave the epicenter of every New Yorker's heart and return to the invisible middle of the country. It is where I feel comfortable and at home. I love coming out here, but I am always happy to return to where I was born and grew up (if not older).

I tried to do the right things while here. I visited museums (four) and rode the subways. I walked until my legs stopped working. I stopped into funky little pubs and supported the local micro brews. I tried not to look or act like a hick, but I am sure the natives could tell.

It would have been more fun with someone to share it with. Food alone is never as good as with a friend. Besides, the Museum of Sex is not a place to visit by oneself. Perhaps next time.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Notes from the Big Apple

Well, my posh days in the heart of the theater district are at an end. I was a guest for two nights at the Sheridan Towers on 7th Avenue in Manhattan, sandwiched between Times Square and Central Park South. It was posh and spendy. You couldn't find a cheap meal other than a pretzel from a corner vendor, but the theaters and fancy restaurants were everywhere. And if the local distractions were not enough, the subway entrances were all over the place to whisk you away to wherever you wanted to go.

Now, I am in a pretty seedy part of Brooklyn in a nice room at the Holiday Inn Express with a long hike to get anywhere of interest. More on that later.

While across the East River, I took advantage of the MOMA's (Museum of Modern Art) nearby location (two blocks from the hotel) to take in an exhibit on Tim Burton which I found fascinating. I was going to go to the Museum of Sex, but got sidetracked when my youngest brother, who lives in Manhattan, called to see if I wanted to bum around SoHo and the Village.

One of my favorite things is walking around the city with my brother. He is the family historian and knows a lot of fascinating things about New York and its history. We look at buildings and he explains when they were built, the famous people who lived and died in them, off the cuff remarks like "The first elevator in the world was installed in that building by Mr. Otis." Stuff like that.

We wound up meeting an old friend of his and her husband who were in town to celebrate a birthday which took us to a pub for drinks and conversation. Later, we did more wandering, pubbing, and finally some dining where I had quite possibly the largest hamburger I have ever seen. We capped it off with some expensive single malt at a Scottish bar and restaurant before my brother headed back to home in Washington Heights, and I went around the corner to Times Square and up 7th Avenue to my hotel.

Today I made the hotel switch after zig-zagging around a four by six block area looking for a place that still served breakfast. I finally got in out of the rain at a european cafe where I had a very nice onion and lox omelet with black coffee and fruit whilst reading the NY Times. By the time I looked at the clock, I realized that I had ten minutes to get back to the hotel, pack, and check out. Needless to say, it was a rush.

Getting to my new place was deceptively easy. Out the door, turn left, left again and down the stairs to the subway where I caught the D-train all the way to Brooklyn. I got off at the nearest exit which still left me a nine block walk in the rain through a stretch where all of the storefront signs were in Arabic. Not too many white faces along the way. I finally found the hotel which seems to be parked in the middle of an area specializing in auto wreckage, construction companies, and vacant lots. Hmmmm.

The staff has been very nice however and the room and bathroom are quite nice, though a little cramped after the king sized bed was plopped down. The internet is complementary and the TV is a flat screen that is place actually in front of the bed (as opposed to being off to one side in a cabinet that prevented viewing from just about anywhere in the room) which was not the case in one of my more recent motel experiences.

Now, I am about to venture out in search of a six-pack if I can find a grocery store within walking distance. Wish me luck.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Reluctant Tourist

I am leaving tomorrow for the east coast. Originally, Risa and I were to go with the purpose of the trip to see her college friend and a god-son. Since I was going along, I wanted to also see my brother who lives in Manhattan, so I got us a hotel room for two nights just off Central Park south. Then things went to shit.

Risa's friend requested time off, but was denied, so she has to work from noon until 8 PM Friday and Saturday. In addition, her aunt, the matriarch of the family (where we were going to stay) was just diagnosed with breast cancer and everyone is going down to Philadelphia on Sunday morning to get her started on treatment.

Risa's ticket is flexible. Mine is not. Plus I pricelined the hotel which is non-refundable. So I am off to NYC by myself for five days. Normally I would be excited about the trip, but right now, it feels like a lonely excursion.

Fortunately my brother has rescued me from spending the last three days wrapped in newspaper in the subway tunnels even though space is pretty tight in his apartment. If there are any NYC readers out there, give me a shout and we can get together for a beverage.

I will have on-line access so if you have suggestions for things I should do, please let me know.

Tata for now.