• nature,  travel

    Stockton, NJ

    I’ve come to realize that I really, really like colonial style.  Big red wallpaper with big red stripes, pineapples everywhere, houses made of stone.  The whole country estate, pastoral ideal, yeoman farmer thing.

    But, y’know, without the oppression and slavery that seems to come with it.

    We spent the weekend at a lovely B&B in Stockton, NJ, which is right next to the Delaware River (as in, “Washington crossing the”).  We haven’t had much time to ourselves, just the two of us, and His birthday is coming up next week, so we thought we’d get away.  It was just lovely.  We stayed in a converted colonial farmhouse.  It had sheep.  And pineapples.  And bizarrely shaped canopy beds with netting over it that we spent a good amount of time trying to reverse engineer.

    Maybe the colonial thing is just an extension of my obsession with fiber arts.

    We also rented bicycles and acquired ourselves a picnic lunch and spent much of Saturday just pedaling and trying to pick the perfect place to splash down to the water to eat our sandwiches.  I haven’t been very hungry since the weather became hot, so I’m afraid I didn’t do my sandwich much justice at all, but I had a grand time eating it and splashing my feet in the river from on top of a log.  Sitting on logs makes me really happy.

    Exhausted from our cycling, we took a nap and then woke up to go into town, where there was a music festival going on at one of the local restaurants.  (All the restaurants were amazingly good — and expensive — which goes to show that their economy is tourism.)  We had one of the best meals of our lives, while watching two youngins in skimpy bathing suits make out (and then some) on the one corner in the center of town.  I mean, where else would you?

    We took a walk out onto one of the many bridges spanning the Delaware and watched the moon over the river.  It would have been perfect, if someone hadn’t disappeared in the river earlier, so our romantic talk was punctuated with sirens and an airboat, which is the loudest thing you can imagine on a river that still.  Not much for ambiance, but the moon was still nice.  There’s just something about a full moon on a river.  It reminds me very much of where I grew up, which is just a happy thing.

    By Sunday, it was definitely time to get back to the home front and check on the cat, who has been recovering from an illness.  We stopped at Washington’s Crossing and oohed and ahhed at the “Washington crossed the Delaware near here” signs and took lots of pictures of the river and the geese of the river.  It was a beautiful weekend away, filled with many naps and quality time and nature and pretty memories.

    But you’re not getting me on that river one on of those colonial boats.  That current’s swift.

  • amusement,  nature,  new york,  wedding

    The No Good Real Bad Messed Up Day

    I should have known when the day started out with plunging a clogged toilet.  I woke up in the middle of an ice storm that blanketed most of the country; and my country is large.  It was not the foot of snow that we’d been promised on top of the several other feet of snow we’ve had this year, so some small mercies.  But not really, because snow does not make you slip over and over as you walk to the train….the train which is now running on a weekend schedule due to the weather, which translates to once per hour.  During rush hour to Manhattan.  And they had the nerve to charge peak prices.

    So, needless to say, the train was a little congested.  By the time we’d gotten three stops ahead of mine (which is, fortunately for me, only three stops from the end of the line, so I had a seat), there were so many people jammed into the aisle and cubbies of the train that one of the conductors announced to the other conductors that she was stuck into a cubbyhole and could not open the doors to her cars.  She advised that no further stops be made, which would have been just as effective as continuing to stop.  But we did continue to stop, which was good, because another stop down, it was announced that there was a passenger on the train with a medical emergency.

    If you don’t commute by train in a big city, you might react to this news with some sympathy.  The rest of us are made of harder stuff, because inevitably the ambulance and passenger removal will require at least a half an hour of sitting on the track, which also means no trains behind you getting through either.  By being so rude as to have your heart attack/stroke/baby on a rush hour train, you have just made thousands of people late for work.  And they’re mad at you.

    But I wasn’t mad at you, not this morning, because I had a seat.  A seat I’d been sitting in for so long by the time we finally pulled into Penn Station that my legs were cramping and I was thinking of very little else than whether or not the bathrooms in Penn Station were going to be clean.  Commuter trains are not made for two hour long train rides, which is what it was.

    So I went on to the first stop of my day, which was a visit to where our servers are hosted.  On the way up in the elevators, power flickered.  My elevator dropped.  I screamed, but then it stopped, so I told myself to calm down and push the help button.  Eventually I got out, with no broken bones.  Small mercies.  I climbed the other seven flights of stairs to where I was going.

    I had two things to do there, one of which was impossible because of the incompetence of a vendor.  The other thing was to pick up a box that had taken me several days to make our hosting people admit to having.  I said I’d be by at nine to pick it up and they said no problem.  I showed up at 9:40, due to all of the above, and no box and no one who knew where the box was.  Around 10:20, it was finally delivered to one very irritated bird, leaning against a chain fence with her arms crossed and a glare on her face.

    But as I was told, all’s well that ends well.  I went from there, trudging through huge icy puddles and slush, to my office.  At last, I was planning on using the company Starbucks card (whoohoo, dot com perks) to buy myself a cup of coffee, which would just suit me fine and cheer me up.  So, naturally, as I was unfolding the card from its receipt, it went bouncing straight down into the radiator vent.

    Hysterics commenced.  As did the dismantling of the radiator.

    Life improved with coffee.  It always does.  And yet, there’s still the commute home to consider — we’re going tonight to see another possible wedding venue – the Stewart Manor Country Club. Could we possibly dare to get married there, after such a day?

  • art,  music,  nature,  new york

    My new love

    For $40, I bought myself a mandolin and have been having a blast.  It’s basically a violin that’s played like a guitar, so the learning curve has been pretty reasonable considering my years of playing the fiddle.

    And for those that don’t take it seriously, the mandolin is, in fact, awesome.  Just not precisely when I play it.  Yet.

    We have another snow storm coming on, which is our fourth in as many weeks.  It’s a very snowy January, even by New York standards.  I admit that I kind of like the perpetual snow, since it’s not something I’ve ever really experienced before.  It seems to provide a reason for the relentless cold, even though I have now reached the “oooh, it’s a nice and warm 30F day today!” part of winter.  This storm is a little strange in that it’s also raining, so we have a perpetual mix of ice and snow and….lightning.  It’s bizarre, but everyone’s at home and I have my mandolin and my wheel to keep me company.  And a pumpkin pie.

    Let it pellet, let it pellet, let it pellet.

  • nature,  new york,  ocean

    Running Crabs

    Horseshoe crabs, that is.

    We spent the day on a boat puttering around Jones Inlet, which was developed in the 20s to be one of the more famous bits of Long Island shoreline. There’s an ampitheater and miniature golf and all variety of entertainments that make a day at the beach where you’re stuck with your family a little more entertaining.

    It is one of my more favorite places in the world. It is also where they do a huge Memorial Day show with lots of fighter planes. Unfortunately, getting good photography of fighter jets while on a bobbing boat is more or less impossible, as both move at a rather rapid pace. (There was Ginger Ale. Oh yes, there was. Puking was avoided.)

    Still, there is something about being underneath a fighter jet. They move so much faster than the speed of sound that I kept getting confused and looking in the wrong place. We weren’t close enough to really appreciate their acrobatics the way that people on the beach undoubtedly did, but it was still pretty awesome.

    After a while, we ran the boat over to a little island that’s mostly underwater at high tide and jumped off for a little wander. I took my camera, which is when we met these two fellas. The beach was covered in horseshoe crabs (two of which we interrupted in coitus, oops), many of who had landed the wrong side up. As seagulls rather enjoy the delicacy of horseshoe crab gills (perhaps it is the seagull version of goose paté?), we helped a few of them out by returning them to the sea.

  • amusement,  nature,  new york,  ocean

    The Ides of May

    It’s been an amazingly full weekend.  On Friday, I started off right by reorganizing my office at work.  I’ve long felt unproductive in there, because my desk was oriented towards the wall, leaving my back to the office.  In order to see what was going on, I had to sit with my feet propped up on another chair (working for a dot com has perks) and ignore my desk completely.  So I turned one of my tables and voila, I can do both, which will undoubtedly help resolve some backaches I’ve been having.

    On Saturday, I took the train into Manhattan to take a professional test.  Having passed that and acquired some new letters after my professional signature, I went over to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.  I made it there five minutes before noon, so snuck in through the gates for free, which was nice.  It was a beautiful day and I snapped a lot of photos.  My best one was of a bee landed on an ornamental onion, but now that I’ve looked at it on a computer, I can see some areas for improving.  So I’m thinking about whether or not to go back this weekend and try again with a little more knowledge.

    Sunday I took my new kayak out for her maiden voyage, which was a great deal of fun until the wind picked up.  It was at this point where being on an inflatable boat wasn’t such a great thing.  I paddled myself over to a beach and was resting (and waiting for the wind to die down) when another kayaker decided I needed rescuing.  It was a little silly, since I could have easily deflated my kayak and walked back to the car from where I was (perhaps 300 feet away from where I’d parked), but I hitched a ride back and had some fun kayak conversation.  I have blisters now, because I stupidly forgot my gloves,  but the freedom of moving around on the water was just amazing.  I think I’m addicted, which is unfortunate, because I’m meant to be training for a bike ride, not a paddling event.

    They do have kayak races in my neighborhood, though…so it might be worth thinking about for next year.  With a hard shell kayak!

  • cooking,  health,  house,  nature

    Season Change

    Here in NYC, it has become impossible to deny the fact that autumn is upon us. The temperatures have dropped significantly and I find myself wearing a sweater to and from work. Not yet a coat, thank goodness. I dread winter like nothing else.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about my garden. My goals for my garden this year were to raise some food and to get the roses all settled into one corner and producing. It was a miserable year for the roses in terms of flower production, but they did have a lot of stem growth. And blight, unfortunately. Food-wise, I managed to grow a lot of tomatoes and chili peppers, a few cucumbers, a handful of strawberries and keep a persistent herb garden (mint, basil, rosemary, oregano, chives). My green pepper plant was stolen by the local squirrel mafia.

    I inherited a number of flowering bushes that all flower for about a week in the springtime. My yard turns pink. They don’t do much for the rest of the year and are not what I would have planted. Still, I have some reluctance to kill a living thing just because it’s taking up valuable land. But I think I’ve gotten to the point where I’m ready to maybe try to move them into large planters so that I can have the valuable garden space for growing food. Or kill them. What happens in the garden stays in the garden.

    I have a very small amount of space and it’s in the front of the house, in a neighborhood where no one except me seems to devote land to food at all. I am sensitive to the needs of my neighbors, but I do think that I’m going to tear out the decoration and really plant food next year.

    I have a whole winter to plan – but would any experienced gardeners want to opine on what I should be doing now to make the soil as fertile as possible for next year? Would chopping up my bushes now and burying the body, as it were, be of benefit? Would the decomposition help with the soil? I could probably get down with plant murder if it would help feed me better next year.

  • new york,  ocean,  relationships

    The Season

    New York has something called The Season, which I’d never experienced before moving here. It starts on Memorial Day, lasts until Labor Day, and means that you go to the beach as much as possible. You sip teas and take things slower. You go to your timeshare on Fire Island or in the Hamptons or Montauk. You wear white and walk the streets of Manhattan slowly, languorously, browsing sales and famers’ markets.

    You smile a lot more.

    But still, I think the thing I love best about The Season in the town where I live are little things like going out to fancy restaurants and finding that everyone is still in sandals and flip flops, because you just can’t bother to put on socks for any occasion.

    I just adore this time of year.