Have a Little Hope

Sorry for my absence everyone. I hope that everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving. I’ll be back very soon with a longer post but I wanted to get this one up first.

Lately I’ve been down about the results of the grand juries for Eric Garner and Darren Wilson/Michael Brown. Protests and “die ins” for Eric Garner are continuing in NYC. On the other side of the world, Africans are still suffering through the Ebola outbreak. Crisis still looms large in the Ukraine. There is so much to worry about.

Given all that is happening, I was walking down the street the other day, in deep serious thought and I almost walked straight into Robert Indiana’s “Hope” Sculpture.

Robert Indiana's Hope, located on the corner of 7th Avenue and 53rd Street

Robert Indiana’s Hope, located on the corner of 7th Avenue and 53rd Street

It was exactly what I needed in that moment to remind me to have hope. Things are very serious, and there is lots that we need to fix, but without hope there is little that we can do.  I continue to have hope that we can make this country and world a better, safer and healthier place for everyone.

Have hope this holiday season!

Urban Farm, Winter Style

Last weekend I was lucky enough to get an off season visit to an urban farm in Brooklyn. My friend works at the Youth Farm at the High School for Public Service in Prospect Lefferts Garden. The farm is run by Green Guerrillas in conjunction with the high school. It is an educational production farm  that offers New Yorkers opportunities to increase their knowledge of the food system and build high level organic growing skills to share with their communities. The Youth Farm grows its produce and flowers on just one acre but it has made a big impact on the local community with a farmers market and CSA.

The Green House

The Green House

Given that much of the community has West Indian and Caribbean backgrounds, the farm grows some Caribbean produce to serve its shoppers at the Farmers markets.

Radicchio Growing through the Winter

Radicchio Growing through the Winter

The farm is quiet and mostly shut down for the winter, but there are still a few crops prospering. I got to eat some deliciously fresh green house micro greens, and I eagerly look forward to buying some next time around.

Mixed micro greens

Mixed micro greens

If you’re ever in New York, check out some of the urban farms throughout the city. There are lots of options and the farms all have different specialties. Its amazing to see how much can be produced from such small spaced.

For more information about the Youth Farm, check out their blog at http://hspsfarm.blogspot.com/p/about-farm.html

This City Mouse meets a Country Mouse

I nearly forgot about this picture. A bout a month ago, we left ventured out of the city to go apple picking at Terhune Orchards in Princeton, NJ. Its a lovely large farm which usually has a large variety of apples for picking and purchase.

Unfortunately for us, we visited on the last weekend of the apple picking season and the trees were largely picked pretty bare. So, it took some scrounging to find good choices. Even when we did find apples, we have to contend with locals that had gotten there first.

A Feasting Mouse

A Feasting Mouse

That’s the price you pay for organic, I guess. I’m just glad that I saw the mouse before I reached to grab the apple. I’m an animal lover, but I don’t need a field mouse on or in my hands.

Beat It Brooklyn

Brooklyn can be a very interesting place to live. It has everything from artisan foods to avant garde art, nude beaches to topless pizza places, historical sites to  the latest trend. It is a borough that seems to have a bit everything and some things you didn’t know you wanted.

This past weekend, I had friend from out of town visiting, so we started with the obvious and went to brunch complete with  chicken and waffles, bloody Marys and cocktails. Afterwards, once we were fortified with liquor, we headed to a  more “Brooklynesque”event called “Beat It”. Beat It was described as “an interactive art installation where viewers are invited to take foam bats and let out their aggression on over-sized stuffed animals and giant pinatas.”

Beat It Poster

Beat It Poster

The event was thrown by Jo Firestone, a local figure most famous for hosting Punderdome, a monthly pun telling competition.

As in any organized society, there were rules to the engagement. Though, you’ll note that the poster for the event asks you to bring your own bat, but the rules prohibits use of your own bat or “hitting device”. No one brought their own “hitting devices” as far as I could see, so this miss communication didn’t have any ill effect.

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Them’s the Rules

After signing a waiver and questionnaire about what makes us mad, we were handed foam noodles and were invited in to beat various objects to our hearts content.

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I have to say there is something delightful about watching fully grown men and women take their aggression out teddy bears and pinatas. Feeling silly and giddy, we stopped to take some silly pictures with the props.

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Pinata Headed Friends

After we battled the toys to our hearts content, we headed to a shuffleboard bar for more cocktails and board games. I’d like to say that it was a unique Brooklyn day, but honestly things like this happen every day in my neighborhood. It may be weird, but I call it home.

Bryant Park Popsicle

Did I say winter was here in my last post? Apparently that was no joke. I cut through Bryant Park the other night on the way to the theater and caught site of this:

Frozen Fountain in Bryant Park

Frozen Fountain in Bryant Park

I worked in an office next to Bryant Park for over six years and I’ve never seen the fountain freeze. Usually the fountain has long been turned off by the time we get a sustained cold for long enough to freeze.

It looks like its going to be a long cold one. Bundle up people!

Winter Farmer’s Market Blues

I stopped by the Green Market  at Grand Army Plaza this weekend and saw two things of note. The first was a crop of the largest carrots I’ve ever seen.

Those are some thick carrots

Those are some thick carrots

The second, was this sad scene of a cold farmers market worker all packed up and waiting to go home.

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Looks to me like winter’s here!

Books and Bronze

I did some local wandering this weekend to stop by the Brooklyn Public Library’s main branch and walked back home through the park.

I rarely read physical books anymore, but I am an avid ebook reader. The Brooklyn Public Library has a fantastic ebook lending system so I am a big supporter. Its no surprise that Brooklyn Public Library had the highest program attendance of any public library system in the United States in 2009. The Brooklyn Public Library is one of three separate and independent public library systems in New York City. It is a separate library system from the New York Public Library, which serves Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx. This is because the system was founded before the boroughs were all incorporated into NYC.

The central library, my favorite location, was originally built in 1912, but the design was too  expensive. With World War I and the Great Depression the construction stalled. The current building was designed by  Githens and Keally in the Art Deco Style and opened in 1940.

The Central Library Facade

The Central Library Facade

The building is shaped to look like an open book which is hard to see in this image, but its quite an effect. The entryway is detailed in bronze and was designed by C. Paul Jennewein and Thomas Hudson Jones.  It features fifteen different literary characters and luminaries, including Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, and Brooklyn’s own Walt Whitman. See if you can spot them.

The gilded gateway of the central Library

The gilded gateway of the central Library

Oh Dear!

Living in NYC, it  is easy to forget that “city” doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no wild life. New Yorkers tend to think that urban wildlife is limited to rats, strays and roaches. Of course there is the occasional conversation about the return of coyotes (http://nymag.com/news/features/coyotes-2014-2/) or the hatching of baby red tailed hawks (http://nypost.com/2014/05/27/camera-captures-birth-of-red-tailed-hawks-on-window-ledge/) but most the wildlife and animal news in New York is not good.

A few years ago someone was caught trying to sell a live shark on the subway (http://gothamist.com/2012/07/11/man_spotted_selling_live_shark_on_t.php). Last month a dead bear cub was found in central park (http://nypost.com/2014/10/06/black-bear-cub-found-dead-in-central-park/). Last week goat heads were found hanging from a pole in Park Slope, Brooklyn (http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/11/04/goat-heads-found-hanging-from-telephone-pole-in-park-slope/). these are the kind of weird animal stories that New Yorkers are used to.

On a recent trip to Colorado I spent some time in Denver and was pleasantly surprised to find that wildlife is alive and well within city limits. From birds to deer to bison the area was rich with wildlife. I hope you enjoy my photos below.

Oh hello there, deer.

Oh hello there, deer.

Taking flight in Denver

Taking flight in Denver

Urban Buffalo

Urban Buffalo

Mr. Deer

Mr. Deer

A Dog’s Life

For the past five days, I’ve been house sitting and taking care of two cats and a dog. I absolutely love animals, especially dogs. From time to time, I get puppy fever and come really close to getting a new furry fried. But, its so hard to give a pet the attention he or she deserves when you live in the city. Caring for a dog for five days was supposed to be a good way to remind me of the level of responsibility and care they require.

Leon curled up for a nap

Leon curled up for a nap

One of the Curious Cats

One of the Curious Cats

Though the pets were a lot of work, it was an absolute delight to spend time, frolicking, walking, playing and snuggling. I don’t think that it cured me of puppy fever at all.

We were lucky enough to have beautiful fall weather this weekend, and I spent a lot of time with Leon out doors. One of my favorite things about watching Leon was that it gave me the opportunity and incentive to spend some real time exploring the back trails of Prospect Park. Prospect Park is a 585 acre park in Brooklyn which was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux after they completed the designs for Central Park. The park opened to the public on October 19, 1867.

Though I live only about a mile from the park, I rarely have the occasion to really explore anything but the main paths of the park. With Leon at my side I took off to explore areas of the park I’ve never before seen. The results were stunning.

Fall leaves reflected in the Lake

Fall leaves reflected in the Lake

Path to the Nethermead

Path to the Nethermead

Evening on the Long Meadow

Evening on the Long Meadow

The fall leaves were just coming into their peak and the sun was shining through clear skies. The lake in Prospect Park is the only lake in all of Brooklyn, and it is populated with all kinds of waterfowl like ducks and swans. There are lovely wooden bridges, overlooks, and places to sit on ponder while taking in the scenery. Leon particularly likes the benches.

Taking a rest on a bench

Taking a rest on a bench

Though my dog and cat duties are now officially over, I will definitely be going back on wanders through the park soon. There is so much more to see and explore, right in my backyard.

Beautiful evening path

Beautiful evening path

A very sleepy pup

A very sleepy pup

The Great Attack Birds of San Clemente

Last week a traveled to San Clemente, CA for a wedding. San Clemente is a mid-sized town between Los Angeles and San Diego. Its know for its coastal views, surfing and as the headquarters for Rainbow Sandals. Essentially, its a surf town.

Sunset in San Clemente

Sunset in San Clemente

Being that I was still on East Coast time, I woke up way too early on Friday and went in search of good coffee and breakfast. The first place we stopped was supposed to have already opened, but clearly they were on surf time and were still prepping for the day. So, I landed at a busy donut shop called Surfin’ Donuts, of course.

mmm, donuts

mmm, donuts

Afterwards, we thought I’d take a drive to the waterfront to check out the scenery and get some fresh air. After a quick left turn I found myself on a hilly windy road, which gave way to a view of the San Clemente  pier.

San Clemente Pier

San Clemente Pier

Though the pier provided beautiful views, it was also totally infested with birds. Now, I don’t mind a few seagulls or pelicans. But this was different. There where hundreds upon hundreds of pigeons. As we started to walk down the pier, they were take flight and a few would make like they were going to dive bomb us.  This happened every few steps. Fear got the best of us before we could make it to the end, but it was a very long pier…

Attack Birds

Attack Birds

… but it was worth it for the sunrise views.

Sunrise in San Clemente

Sunrise in San Clemente