Monday, March 23, 2020

Home, thankfully

Until a week ago, Ed and I were in sunny Mexico, fairly oblivious to the fright and panic that our friends and family were experiencing on a minute-by-minute basis. Yes, we knew that a virus was coming to the US – but it was not being reported as dire before we left.  We were largely insulated from the stress by 1) our desire to live a week without news coming at us from every direction (combined with our lack of understanding Mexican-language, thereby never turning on the TV news)  and 2) the Mexican government's resistance to acknowledging the possibility that the coronavirus may have been alive and spreading even as its people continued to gather in large groups.

We flew home last Wednesday on nearly empty planes and I admit that I was relieved to be safely back home. I am grateful for our life here on Farm Dover and happy to wander our ever-greening paths, weed and mulch the gardens, forage from the woods and meadows, and plan and plant vegetables to feed us in the coming months. If only I could gather my dearest friends and family around, I would be content.

I know for others, life is a lot more complicated. It is scary for many and the future uncertain for all.

It seems a bit inappropriate to put up a bunch of photos from our trip when folks have other things – more important things – weighing on their hearts and minds. Because I don't want to forget the highlights, I've added a section to this post I wrote about our first trip to Mexico in 2018. I'll save the other pics for a happier time.

Like kidney stones, this too shall pass. In the meantime, I hope you and your beloveds stay healthy.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Comings and Goings: Brooklyn

You should know that I mostly blog for myself. Yes, I'm glad that you are here – showing interest in our comings and goings from Farm Dover – but if I don't write about our travels, I have only the vaguest recollections, forgetting many of the details.

We are just back from a winter weekend getaway to visit Mary, Brian and Saltie in Brooklyn. It's a rainy Monday; no going out to poke around to see what might be coming up in the garden, so I thought I would spend a few minutes recording the details of our trip.

View for Mary's and Brian's loft in Red Hook

First of all, it was great. Mary and Brian are such gracious hosts, always planning our days and nights full of fun, paced perfectly. This trip was no exception.

We arrived on Thursday afternoon, checking into a charming Airbnb in South Slope, not terribly far from Mary's and Brian's Red Hook loft. We met up for a beer at Sunny's Bar, a Red Hook institution, that was remarkably quiet on an early Thursday evening. Ed had recently read Sunny's Nights: Lost and Found at a Bar on the edge of the World, a book given to him by Mary, and described as "an indelible portrait of what is quite possibly the greatest bar in the world – and the mercurial, magnificent man behind it." (It's also the setting for a movie that we recently watched: Hearts Beat Loud, starring Nick Offerman.)

From there, we walked over to Fort Defiance for dinner, a Red Hook neighborhood restaurant where we had dined previously for brunch. It's eclectic and delicious.

Brian had a business appointment on Friday morning up north of the city, so Mary met us at Four and Twenty Blackbirds for coffee and a scone before boarding the R train for the Lower East Side and a long browse through the Strand Book Store and its "18 miles of books." Then, with a bag full of books, it was on to Katz's Delicatessen, the no-frills deli with theatrically cranky service serving mile-high sandwiches. Pastrami on rye, with a side of slaw and pickles. And don't dare lose your yellow ticket or they won't let you leave (not sure what they would actually do to you, but I don't want to find out)!

We needed to walk off our lunch so we headed to The New Museum of Contemporary Art for a look at four floors of some pretty spectacular paintings (especially those by Jordan Casteel). A final stop for the afternoon took us to the Despana wine shop, where Ed acquired a bottle of orujo, a brandy from northern Spain.

After a nap back at our place, we met Mary, Brian and their friends: Alena and Matt and their one-month-old baby at Folksbier Brauerei, a small Carroll Garden's brewery. We oohed and aahed over Baby Dom while she slept soundly against her dad's chest snug in her carrier.

Dinner that night was just down the street at Frankies 457 Spuntino, a neighborhood Italian restaurant. One of the things I love most about dining with our kids is turning the ordering over to them. I've trained them well. We had a lovely dinner, ordered by Mary and Brian. This is the second time we have dined at Frankies and I'd be happy to come back any time we are in Brooklyn.

We spent Saturday morning at Mary's and Brian's loft, having pour-over coffee and sweets from Baked and watching Saltie lie on her bed or stretch on the floor.

For lunch, we headed to the East Wind Snack Shop for some amazing handcrafted Chinese dumplings. What a find. I could lunch here every day! The sun was out, but the wind was cold; nevertheless, we took a walk through nearby Propect Park after lunch. From there, we headed to Queens to take in the Museum of Moving Images (film, television, and digital media). My favorite exhibit was the Jim Hanson exhibit, where I got to see all my Sesame Street friends.

Meanwhile, Ed got to catch up with Howdy Doody, a childhood favorite of his. He has this exact same doll packed away in the basement. I may need to go dig it out.

Pizza was the nomination for dinner on Saturday night; we walked over to Pizza Moto and scored a table in the kitchen (marketed to us as a chef's table). It worked out great. We watched as five guys made dozens of thin-crusted Neapolitan pies, while eating three of our own.

Sunday morning we were up and out, meeting Mary for a chai and scone before church at First Presbyterian Brooklyn. Attending church at this welcoming sanctuary is always a highlight of our Brooklyn visits. The music alone is worth the visit (but the sermon is also always inspiring).

We brunched at Colonie NYC, sharing a pot of french press coffee and warm donuts served with lemon cream before ordering our entrees.

Just in case we got hungry on the flight home, Brian drove us to Court Street Grocers to pick up a sandwich to go, and then we headed to the airport. Time to head home.

Thank you Mary. Thank you Brian. It was great.