NYC – One Day at a Time – Monday – Grimaldi’s,

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday May 30, 2008

We were on our own today, and began to wonder if we’d exhausted ourselves too much. We made it a relaxing day sightseeing something we hadn’t explored before.

We headed to Battery Park and read some history there. Unless you had an aerial view, you wouldn’t place this easily:
bpaerial I was astounded to learn how much of Manhattan Island is now fill from old buildings. When the WTC were destroyed on 9/11……26 acres became new ground for Manhattan.

One damaged piece of the old WTC building was placed here as a memorial statue:
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The old Forts that housed Cannons for protection against attack hundreds of years ago still stand:
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Across the street, as in many Manhattan locations, a beautiful hundreds year old Church still stands:
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We concluded this visit, moved on to the Brooklyn Bridge where we walked across the River to Brooklyn:
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Why you say? To get to Grimaldi’sof course. NO, we hadn’t heard of it before, we actually just stumbled upon it looking for a place to have lunch since it WAS 2:30 already. We walked past this place, it was STILL packed in the middle of the day. We said, OK………..and had the FINEST TASTIEST PIZZA I have ever eaten in my life.
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If you’re ever NEAR Brooklyn, make sure you experience this. And to it in the middle of the day. When we left, they were setting up the barricades for evening traffic and told us a 2 hours wait with a block long line is common.

Oh well. Fun day, and calming…. and we had more to do, but. Exhaustion finally kicked in. We spent the night cleaning the apartment, and packing for a Tuesday departure. Oh well.

New York – One Day at a Time – Sunday – Rita!!!

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday May 30, 2008

Sunday brings us to life about 10:00 am. We’re slowly revving up to get motivated for the afternoon Broadway matinee of Country Girl starring our favorite actress Francis McDormand with Morgan Freeman. Whew! Afterwards, we’re meeting dear Rita for dinner…..so we’ll be near the Empire State Building in midtown by 6:30 pm.

Reviews have been poorly mixed on this play despite the star power, and even a little discussion at the gathering encouraged us to go ahead….. After all, you don’t always agree with the critics.

We got in, seated………and began a long boring poorly acted first half of this play…. We noticed a few people dozing off in the audience. At the end of the first half, Rodger glanced at me with whisper, “This is torture to watch this.” The two ladies in front of us turned around and with a long stare at him, began nodding their heads “yes”……….. So after a short discussion, we got up and left. We didn’t want to sit through another hour of this experience.

HOW different is this than last NY Trip? Last time? 14 plays/musicals. 13 fabulous productions! This time? One production, and we walk out.

Oh well. We got to see Rita, and that makes up for everything! Her building has no owners who also live in the building, so have a real vested interest in improvements. Great news!

We visited at her home a while, meandered over to Lexington Avenue after her telling us there were several fine Indian/Pakistani restaurants there now. There were several! I did my old schtick, Ask the Indian Family who’s obviously going into one of these, “WHERE?” After a little discussion about how spicy we’d like to try, and we said “Spicy,” they all nodded Masala Bollywood.

We spent a fabulous 3 hours at Masala Bollywood enjoying everything a dinner out should be. GREAT company, GREAT food, excellent service. Finally, we have Rita home by 10:30 and depart for our place.

Did we go straight home as we should have? No. We return, once again, via Marie’s Crisis…..and spent the evening meeting the gorgeous Swedish couple, the girl from Ohio here, like everyone, hoping for an acting career….living with a “player” it appears. The Indian girl whose father was a diplomat…and her childhood was never settled….she cried when her sister had to leave the place…… Her best friend, another diplomat child, was here from Ireland to see her….the friend was Italian. Once again, we were hearing LOTS of singers this night, and singing along too. We Invited several to come out to Oregon and see us. An amazing New York experience, I tell you.

SO. We’re home late again.

Birding = BOOM!

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Wednesday May 28, 2008

It has once again happened. Birders all over the place are reporting population booms as babies are being brought to feeders and trained to “get it yourself!”

Nancy G. – our own personal FAVORITE Birder, reported:
I have babies down here as well….. yesterday saw bewick wren, pine siskin, band-tailed pigeon, robin and gold finch babies! Saw a chickadee gathering nesting material too. And I talked to a friend who had her Anna’s gathering nesting material for a second brood too.

I find that exciting.

For us, it still is a thrill to see what were just the TWO pair of Evening Grosbeaks now once again vocalizing loudly and beautifully are bringing two sets of chicks all day long:
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Both Anna’s and Rufous young are now regularly feeding, and the volume of food is about 1.5 quarts daily. What a beautiful pair, eh?
2008rufous pair
But it happens so very fast. Seems they just arrived. As SOON as these Males mate once more, they’ll be leaving! Poor gals, yes, they’ll be nesting, raising young all on their own. The Rufous season is SO short. Luckily, now that we’re building a population of Anna’s we’ll be getting their visits into fall……………………

NYC – One Day at a Time Saturday – Blog Gathering in Central Park

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Wednesday May 28, 2008

The Eagle…………

***FROM DIARY in word doc:

Woops Saturday morning began in a decidedly slow manner. We weren’t really awake until about 11:00 and had the big blogger gathering to get to in Central Park by 2:00. Thanks, Marie’s Crisis!

We got ourselves together, simply walked over to the Pearl Diner on Pearl Street. Had a terrific lunch, and then walked over to the Subway to make our way to Central Park and the blogger afternoon there hosted by the very well known political blogger Joe-My-God.

It turned out to be an astounding afternoon. Once again we were meeting new people you had only read about up till now.
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The weather was fantastic, the park inspiring, the visits terrific. A new blogger we met today, we found with a fabulous wit and sense of humor I would have paid admission to hear. CB was here from Minneapolis, the heartland:

cb

The afternoon passed very quickly. We came back for a power nap, and met everyone once again at The Eagle“>the Eagle by 11:00 pm….We stayed long enough to use up all our money and left by 2:00 AM….interestingly when some of the others were just arriving having attended a “Bearfest” at the GLBT Center.

Of course foolishly, we stopped once again at Marie’s Crisis. It takes my breath away to go in this tiny space and watch Dexter manage a crowd of musically talented singers/actors/dreamers ALL joining in one voice singing musical theater classics into the morning hours. I don’t have words to describe the experience. We weren’t in bed for the 4th night now until after 4:00 am.

NYC – One Day at a Time: Friday – Blog Meet and Greet

Bloged in Gay,General Home Life,Scuff Boys,TRAVEL by mark Monday May 26, 2008

***BEFORE I say anything, I must say I have borrowed without asking some photos from those who DID make the effort to take them…………. Thanks in advance to these bloggers, all mentioned and linked later, Tater, Father Tony, Tony P. After all, there are very few pictures here. I wish I had 3 dozen in this Memory scrapbook. It was a great time. Here’s how friday played out.
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Tater’s encouragement helped us decide to make this trip. Fabulous photographer, writer, a warm loving human. I can see why everybody love’s Tater:
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**In fact, the picture was taken by Tater.
= = = = = = =

Ah. What great good a little rest gives on. Especially here in in David & Greg’s quiet spot….even heavy draperies to make us think we’re still on West Coast time.
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It RAINED ALL DAY! Windy! Cool, high reaching only into the low 50’s! Did WE bring this weather from Oregon? I guess not……Oregon is having temps near 90 for the first time this year while WE are out here.

So.. We saddle up, easy over to the subway, on the “A” line up to 28th and then walk back to Irving, circle around beautiful Gramercy Park, a private park. ONLY residents living around it have keys to get in. I suppose that was the only they could clear out the drug traffic that went on in there for a few years. Anyway……we come to “Casa Mono”, a tapas restaurant where “RG” comes out to greet us. This is yet another “celebrity” restaurant. Mario Batali owns this Spanish venue …… among his other ventures.

Soon we’re joined by Tony and true Gourmet: Stache, then Tater, and lastly, “Father Tony” from new York.

**I am still trying to find the pictures from that lunch……………

We enjoy a leisurely and $$$$ lunch here sharing all the Tapas dishes we’d ordered plus shared desserts. Through this time, we see that all these east coast based bloggers are already acquainted, and have common threads established to continue those friendships through the weekend. Still, we really have enjoyed meeting them, and we’ll see what happens at the official “Meet and Greet” tonight at the HP Lounge in Hell’s Kitchen. There’s no reason to expect our new acquaintances will not be just as welcoming to us tonight as they were through our lunch time together. It was a great lunch, and gave Rodger & I hope that the evening social construct wouldn’t be any different.

Still spitting rain at 8:00 pm, we wander over to the Subway to ride up to the HK. We get in the door, and see several people we recognized from their Internet blogs. The next 3 hours went by in one quick instant. This was a fabulous experience meeting writers and characters in a most real way. Without exception, everyone we met seemed worth knowing.

In addition to the new acquaintances/friendships begun at lunch, there were many very Memorable, at least for our personalities, bloggers we met here that included names below, and is not inclusive….of everyone we met:

The organizers of this event.

littledavid
First, Little David , …..David’s blog is a worthy read if you’re thinking of going to NY. David’s a great guy, and IS the one who is responsible for our staying up very late every evening. No, we weren’t invited over to his place…..HE sent us to Marie’s Crisis (more below on that subject).

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Above: Father Tony, Joe-My-God, and Chris.
The Farm Boyz made up of Father Tony and 25 year partner Chris. A class act, these guys took time to took all their fans wanted, and there were lots of fans. I am sorry we didn’t get to spend more time with them both.

Aaron.
**Aaron currently is writing his own blog plus filling in asking the right questions for a huge blog writer and chronicler of current gay newsworthy events:

Joe My God.

Bill Hawley
**I HAD to tell Bill an old HS idol of mine was a “Hawley.” Frank Hawley was our school’s big stud (in my older brothers class)…so the name Hawley meant something to ME…hah. BILL IS GREAT talking with and we spent time with him on Saturday as well. I do hope we get to meet again………

Mike, of Mike in Middle Ages. Mike’s another very pleasant guy we talked to a lot.

Atari Age from Boston. A super intelligent handsome and shy man quick to easily banter with you, and slow to open up. A great genuine guy.

Stache, of the Spamwise Chronicles. Stache is the great guy who set up our first lunch meeting at Casa Mono. If you have any inkling to investigate how vegetarian food can be beautiful, visit Stache’s page. He explains and shows it all beautifully to you.

Gavin of Y-oh-Y is currently living upstate NY and is caretaker to his Mom, an Alzheimer Patient.
gavin
IF you visit his blog, click on the Alzheimer pages. Gavin is truly doing a public service for a lot of people who are finding out just what kind of sacrifice this means. This becomes an effort for all involved. Gavin is someone we do hope to meet again in the future, no question.

homernus
Homer, another westerner, traveled from Tucson, AZ. Homer is an archaeologist and a fascinating down to earth fascinating man. He just may visit us later this summer for the expressed purpose of making my Grandma’s Dill Pickles with one variation—OUR adding one habanero pepper to each jar.

And there were MORE people………but I must move on……..

While talking with great interest to theater blogger Little David , we made our adventure (mistake or not???) of the night when he told us about his favorite theater piano bar….and it was not Mamas. “Mama’s is so yesterday.”……………………….

So although we’d had a full and complete evening of drinking and entertainment, we decided that “Marie’s Crisis” (see below)
was a worthy stop on Grove street in the Village because, you know, “Well hey….it’s ON the way back to the apartment.” We found this tiny spot on the strait with a tiny sign pointing into a place you step down into. I was completely taken and astounded on entering. The place was packed, I tell you packed with theater kids ALL singing the theater pieces.

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DEXTER, above, the piano player for many years, was masterfully playing and quasi directing in his own way. This was a complete New York experience.
It was all fine until we realized we had arrived back home at 4:30 am. Woops Saturday morning began in a decidedly slow manner. We weren’t really awake until about 11:00 and had the big blogger gathering to get to in Central Park by 2:00.

THIS Reference from CrashandByrne.blogspot on the History of Marie’s Crisis:

Back in 1809, Thomas Paine died in a house on the spot that now houses Marie’s Crisis (the current building dates back to 1839). You remember Paine, right? Author of Common Sense, The Rights of Man, and the American Crisis papers (‘These are the times that try men’s souls’). His work was one of the main reasons America split from England.

Fast forward. Marie Dumont starts a bar in the basement of the building. She names it Marie’s Crisis Cafe because it’s in the building (or rather on the site of the original building) where Paine wrote much of the American Crisis papers.

This goes a long way toward explaining the mirror over the bar that features a decidedly revolutionary theme.
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And so we are in bed at 0400 hours awaiting the main Blogger Gathering in Central Park just a few hours away. Sleep.

E-Beak News

Bloged in birding,General Home Life,Pacific Northwest by mark Monday May 26, 2008

I had worried that while in NYC, our favorite spring early-summer birds, the Evening Grosbeaks had left. NO, they were still here. I could occasionally hear them chirp….but SO much quieter now they were. Yep, they had gone right to nesting.

When these beautiful birds are nesting, they become very quiet.

THIS afternoon, right on schedule (compared to last year…..see our E-Beak News Note LAST YEAR)

**While I was writing something up in the office, Rodger called out from the back room………. THERE they were. Mom & Pop and a couple fledgling Evening Grosbeaks trying to fly, trying to land, landing sideways, little punk hairdo….. Dad feeding one……… and finally all of them getting something to eat.

Fabulous. WATCHING this KIND of event! WHO couldn’t be drawn into become just a hobbyist birdwatcher at least?
ebeak male
Ah…………………………..

NYC – One Day at a Time

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Saturday May 24, 2008

In keeping with our 2005 trip, I want to make more detailed descriptions, since i find the island of Manhattan fascinating. And since I’m so swamped catching up on some gardening/home deadlines, I figure I’ll try to write a post for one day at a time. You know, something done in good taste, as would be expected from the citizenry representing the Pacific Northwest for the gathering we were attending.
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NOTHING could be like that two week theater trip then, but this was interesting in its own right. We had decided to join a bunch of New York City bloggers who were celebrating their 5th annual get-together May 16-18. So we were only there five days. It began…………..

Baird picked us up at 0500 and dropped us at the Alaska Concourse about 0530. We bypassed curbside bag check in to find about 1000 people in the terminal in lines around Alaska! At 5:30 AM! Are You kidding? We lugged back outside to Curbside check-in.

As we’re just passing through the boarding gate, a loud crazy woman butts in front of us to have a discussion with her husband who has just passed through the gate but taken her boarding pass with him. They stand there for a while……. and the line waits. We stare, she finally gets her pass, backs back out (dragging baggage that is bumping everyone on the way). We board, change planes in Seattle and settle into Flight 8 Row 23 Seats E & F. Who will have seat D? The entire plane has filled. Only one seat left….the one next to Mark.

The VERY LAST human boarding that plane turns out to be that loud woman we were accosted by in Portland. Oh well. She was one disturbed woman for the next 4 hours. Could NOT sit still, bumping baggage up against you, trying to start conversations with anyone around her who would listen, and getting a few stares from attendants.
At least we got a good laugh having caught the senior attendant rolling her eyes about this woman, and after she said, “I guess you caught me there.” We were buds.

We arrived EWR (Newark) about 5:00 and actually had a new adventure riding the Air Train over to Newark’s Penn Station where we caught the Path Train into Manhattan, at the World Trade Center. A Bargain at about $9 each….this train comes right up from the harbor into the big excavated hole at the Trade Center…..some interesting views and odd feelings riding through there.

This is where it got fun. Our rented apartment was 10 short blocks from that subway station. We WALKED from the Twin Towers site to the Apartment at John St. Floor 28, and we can see the Brooklyn Bridge from the window. Restaurants everywhere.

We grabbed a slice of pizza and headed out to Midtown to see who or what we could get in trouble with. We found the old Theater haunt Don’t Tell Mama’s on 46th. As is always the case, we met some interesting people. We met Russ Gordon, the writer, and 12 year partner Eric. Russ is writing a play he’s going to send us so we can get him hooked up at A.R.T..maybe?

Russ and pals were filiming this weekend a piece on Obama, “Obama’s Choice” for You Tube….we are to check it out when we get home. As always, the place is soon packed with theater people. Once again, I am reminded, “There’s NO Business like Show Business. “ “There’s NO people like show people.” It is so fabulous to be in this little piano bar where the staff is selected not out of service skills, but if they have musical talent. It is fabulous to be in this place where Talent IS everywhere around you.

Eric is a fashion designer and works in the Theater every night making, designing, fitting costumes. He currently is designing and creating 10 bridesmaids dresses and 4 best-men outfits for Mama’s bartender Eric Pickering that we also met. We MAY go in Sunday to see them all again since Eric is going to sing that night.

As always, we came back on the Subway….went one stop too far, so end up traveling under the East River into Brooklyn.; Easy to find out way back though, , and got home where we stocked up at the gourmet deli simply across the street from the apt. I am always astounded in Manhattan you can have gourmet food buys 24 hours all over this island.
I FELT some big empathy for the subway travelers coming back the Upper and Midtown money places……at midnight. The train was packed, I tell you, packed with working blue collar folk who can’t afford to live in manhattan…..and work late to keep the moneyed people satisfied then head home exhausted at day’s end……but we were IN New York City.
downtownmanhattan'
That’s was it. Nothing else on day one. A long travel day, a fun evening of music and meeting new people. Tomorrow, Friday, would begin the meeting of all the new people we’d only come to know via the Blog world. We’ll soon see how real those connections can be.

Rototilling finally happens 2008!

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Saturday May 24, 2008

Today began with a spectacular sighting. It was damp and cool. A young baby Rufous Hummingbird was simply sitting right out in the open on the deck near a feeder. He just seemed so cold:
1baberufous

If you haven’t guessed, or ever read this Oregon old-guy diary before, you might now know one of the highlights for any year for us is growing a vegetable garden. It only takes about 3 months since our growing season is short, but it’s in the fabulous summer weather, it’s an art that is slowly learned, and maybe we’ve slowly grown to think it’s fun.

We’re a week late beginning garden preparations because we were in NYC, AND it was simply been too cool and damp. TODAY was the DAY! We already have spindly tomato and pepper starts to wrap in insulating jackets so they can grow in the Western Oregon spring weather, but they’re sitting ….. sitting…. in their tiny little starter pots begging to soil:
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Despite weather forecasts for showers and thunderstorms, today was warm and sunny…..ground perfect, and the tilling began:
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And after a few pins broke, and a trip or two off the hill, tilling continued, with manure, peat, vermiculite, lyme, etc, being thoroughly placed into the soil.
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Mark immediately followed digging out the single narrow rows that will function for the rest of this summer as easy access to individual plants. This is the one job he hates every year, it is sweat filled, and tiresome….drilling out walkways in heavy clay soil.
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The starter plants are actually sitting in those little plants “hardening off” to our cooler elevation and will be planted in a few days. Tomatoes and peppers will spend their first few weeks surrounded by insulating water jackets that are in the garage waiting for use:
1wallsowaterready
Once the peppers and ‘maters are about 6 inches out of the top of the jackets, they’ll come off, dry, get folded and wait for next year. THIS super start in the ‘mini’ greenhouses is all that saves our short season up here.

The day ended with a bit of nature beauty. Mark was pulling long grass away from some baby trees in the yard…..at the hemlock, he heard a Mom Junco chipping away at him about the time he looked down and saw this:
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Well, that’s how it looked once I put the nest back right side up and the eggs back in it…..WOOPS. An Oregon Junco is a tiny little bird. here how it looks a few feet back from the last photo:
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If you stand up back up two steps, and take a picture of that baby tree, you will NOT know a Momma Bird is in there waiting for life to start:
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By the way………..Momma didn’t wait 5 minutes to be back on the nest. As soon as I left, she returned.

Ah. Life in the woods.

too busy

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Wednesday May 21, 2008

I haven’t written a thing about our fabulous NY visit and the people I need to tell you to visit.

We came home from NYC to find Oregon has had a heat wave for 3 of our 5 days.

That meant, after a long cold wet spring that slowed every thing down to a crawl……………………………….

Rhodies are blooming, Iris are blooming, EVERYTHING exploded. Hummingbird feeders would have been poisoned had not KAREN SMITH kindly re-filled most of them on her own…………………..

We have spent the day MOWING OUR huge lawn, mowing Peter & Jeanne’s lawn (about an acre—3 houses down), pulling weeds going to seed, moving sun-scorched stuff, getting the dog from his fabulous fun filled dog-romp at the doggy daycare / boarding AAA hotel, going to Ridgefield to secure out summer Tomato starts Michael and Missy have been saving for us, washing/drying/folding 5 loads, cooking some tasty food for the next 3 days, etc etc etc………….THEN.

Rodger found tickets available for DOUBT…………..at the Gerding……….more info later. Cousin Nancy is joining us for a matinee performance there Sunday……….fabulous. MOre later.

PICS later.

GEEZ!!!!! We are TOO busy. I have ALWAYS said. Once Portland winters begin to fade, and you wake up from that winter gray coma, your whole being erupts in a frenzy as if there’s no tomorrow………..

I MUST write a bit more about NY………… but I can’t right now. I’m tired.

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