Twitter Facebook

Little Harlem Garden

Do you remember our little tomato plant? It was a gift from friends when we first moved to Harlem. Our first vegetable plant. You might remember when we designated it our official Christmas Tomato Tree?

It finally yielded it’s very first fruit.

the sole tomato

It was delicious.

urban garden

I’ll miss my little Harlem garden.

Where are we today?

So much for the tree theory

pepper blossom

Remember when I was convinced that I was growing orange trees on my windowsill?  It turns out they’re peppers. And apparently, as I am just discovering thanks to the macro setting on my camera, they are peppers with spider mites. Fantastic.

so much for the tree theory

Oscar and Meyer, the Mite-y Peppers, inherited by Josie S., a good friend. (Sorry about the mites!)

25 Days Till

Today is twenty-five days until we load our truck. We got home from Esopus around four o’clock, dropped our stuff and headed out to scour the neighborhood for boxes. Between the corner pharmacy, the corner market and someone’s trash pile, we got us enough boxes to last through the whole dang weekend!

So now we’ve made a slightly obvious dent in the packing. I have decided it will be fun to do periodic updates, so all my Internet friends can see how the move is progressing, and so those of you who are so eagerly awaiting my return to Los Angeles (all twenty-eight of you) (what? I have an enormous family) can see how things are coming along.

There will be pictures.

living room 25 till

I loathe my little point-and-shoot camera, fantasize nightly about something decent with changeable lenses and a speed that allows for shooting in low-light without a flash, I have no idea what kind of camera that would be, but it would probably be able to perform magic compared to what my little Olympus does. These pictures are the way they are because I hate flashes and would rather post something that’s fuzzy and orange than something that has flash beams bouncing off of every surface.

We love this room. We really, really, really love this room. When we first moved in we thought we’d rent it out, someone could close the french doors and have complete privacy, you’d be surprised what people will rent in the city. But soon we were too much in love with this room. It’s been our multi-purpose room, our art studio/living space. This was the room where Michael discovered his love of painting, and where he started carving in wood. That coffee table is where we’ve curled up on blue sword-fish cushions for family dinner every night. It’s also where I spent most of my time writing. I love the space, all that room to stretch out and practice yoga in. And all the sun, perfect for our tiny urban garden.

living 2 25 till

This room has held so much happiness — this apartment gave us our first sense of home since we moved to the city. Even full of boxes and half-blank walls, it still feels like home. Which is probably because home isn’t the stuff that makes up a room, it’s the people we share the room with.

Kitchen-25-till

We’ve still got a long ways to go, packing wise. We haven’t even touched the kitchen, except to start emptying some of the cabinets and carrying their contents into the living room. Why? I don’t f-ing know you guys, I was getting tired. That’s when we decided to call it night and stuff our face with some of Mike’s Famous Fancied Pizza. Read more for Mike’s recipe for Mike’s Famous Fancied Pizza!

Read more…

Gloom and Doom

It’s May.  It’s May 19, exactly three years and one day from the day Michael landed in the city permanently.  Semi-permanently.  Anyway, it’s May, and it ought to be sunny and beautiful and breezy, but instead it’s gray and gloomy and cold.  I’m still wearing my winter coat.

I’ve realized that the movie Splash, with Daryl Hannah, Tom Hanks and John Candy, is actually about a California girl, not a mermaid.  See, she’s from the Valley, which is why he can’t understand anything she says.  Anyway, I’m like Madison when they’ve been keeping her in that aquarium in the science lab and all her scales are peeling off. I’m beginning to wilt.  The only reason I have survived thus far is because I spent every sunny day this winter curled up on top of the radiator under the window like a cat, soaking up the sunbeams.  Only there hasn’t been any sun in three days.  THREE DAYS.

gloom and doom

I need the sun.  I am a girl who’s meant for sandcastles and tide pools, not skyscrapers and taxicabs.  I haven’t had tan lines in three years.  I am suffering from a serious case of Vitamin D deficiency.  My doctor swears my vitamin D levels are fine, BUT WHAT DOES SHE KNOW?

Oh god, please make the sun shine soon.  Please.  Please.  Please.

Not even kidding

double parked

How the people in my neighborhood park their cars on street cleaning days.

Not even kidding.

(p.s. This picture was taken last week.  Last week when the sun shone and life was merry.  This week it has been grey and gloomy every. single. day. I’m beginning to feel crazy.)

A Tree Grows in Harlem

A Tree Grows in Harlem

Because in our heart of hearts we dream of tree-lined lanes and vegetable gardens and evening skies full of stars, we started a worm bin last summer.  By December we had two bins, each full and weighing at least forty pounds.  We didn’t weigh them, that number is not factual, is actually based on the amount of effort it required to haul the blasted things in and out of the closet, but “fifty pounds” sounds better than “really f-ing heavy”.  So here we are in our little Harlem apartment, in the middle of an east coast winter, with a gajillion pounds of vermicompost.  That was when my mom suggested we give it away as Christmas gifts, because nothing says Merry Christmas like a zip lock bag full of worm poop.

There was much fussing and oohing and ahhing when Michael and I hauled the sagging bins from the closet.  My parents were both there, in town for the holidays, and as I harvested the compost I explained what we put in and what we didn’t, how long it took the worms to get through what, showed them bits of egg shell still at the bottom, the swarming, writhing worms. I was picking cherry pits out of a handful of partially digested compost when I realized that bit of green I was looking at wasn’t undigested vegetable matter.  It was a sprout.  Something we’d eaten and discarded had taken hold and now there was a tiny, perfect sprout.  I was so excited I stopped breathing.

I didn’t know how much I loved growing things until I moved to New York and couldn’t grow things.  After all, it’s hard to grow things in a place where your windows look out at other windows and four out of seven days a week the sun won’t even drive in.  In Los Angeles I had a garden, a rose garden and two oak trees and ivy and impatiens and lilies and I never ever went out there because I didn’t want to get dirty.

This weekend Mike and I were waiting for the D at 125th Street and a terrible stinking drip of city gravy fell with a splat on the side of my face and dripped down my neck.  The whole platform ceiling was oozing with city gravy and Mike got an ear full at the exact moment I was hit and we cried out in unison, “Dodge the gravy!”  Number twelve on my list of things New York has taught me is that cities are far dirtier than gardens, and not nearly as enchanting.

When we finally move back to Los Angeles, if we are lucky enough to have anything even reminiscent of a garden, even if it’s just a small window box that gets full sun a few hours a day, I will relish it.  I will dig my fingers into the dirt and I will plant things and one of the first things planted will be my sprouts.

Nooked

There were two of them growing in the bin.  We plucked them out and planted them in seed pots and they have grown over six inches in five months.  We have no idea what they are.  They’re obviously from something we ate, and they’re definitely tree-shaped.  Look at that picture and tell me that sprout isn’t growing into a tree that’s just perfectly shaped for climbing.  Tell me that bend isn’t a reading nook.

We can’t say for sure what they are, but we’re placing our bets on orange trees, because of the size and shape of the leaves.  And also because it’s just kind of awesome to be a California dreamin’ couple in Harlem, growing citrus trees on our windowsill.

A Serious Weekend

On our way to wonder at William Kentridge.

*love in an elevator*

*how to commute*

*how to commute*

Ladies Home Journal

*a perfect table in a perfect dining room for a perfect party*

birdling

*from the devil's gaping maw*

washing windows

*then the one on the left waved at me and I died from embarrassment*

*all photos courtesy of my Verizon Wireless Satan Owns My Soul BlackBerry

And Done And Done

The last few weeks have been amazing.  Amazing as in, Mike gets up every morning at six, wakes me up at six-thirty, he leaves for school and I start work by seven, we get home from work/school around five-thirty or six, fix dinner, eat dinner, wash dishes, do chores, crawl into bed, pass out.  We’re working our asses off and it feels pretty damn good.

This weekend was all about doing the little things on my to-do list, the little things that fall at the very bottom, get buried beneath piles of GET THIS DONE BY 9 A.M. and SHIT I WAS SUPPOSED TO FINISH THAT YESTERDAY.  One of those things was banishing the months-old Valentines Day banner I had up on Frosy-Licious, and writing a better ending post than the last one I wrote, which was a little whiny, let’s be perfectly honest.  The new one is great, you should check it out, it’s called “Last One. No Really” and contains a photo of dogs snuggling.

Anyway, I’ve got a couple of tricks up my sleeves, including some big news that I’m not sure how to tell you yet, but no, I’m not pregnant.

And in case you haven’t seen any flowers today…

P4100078

***

P4100090

***

P4100095

***

P4100107

***

4589972957_21944c110d_b

Harlem, April 2007

Fleurs de Mai

This morning I was suddenly overcome by the feeling that I’m finally doing what I’ve always wanted to do.  I’m Living.  Breathing.  Working my ass off for something I’m proud of and still finding time to stop and admire the flowers.

P5070141

Not Van Gogh's Irises, but still.

P5070140

Like wild strawberries, or burning eye sockets. You pick.

P5070130

Just before Theo peed on them.

P5070155

And just in case you needed to be reminded that HOLY SH*T Nature is Beautiful.

White Devils and Stolen Dogs

Monday afternoon was sunny and gorgeous and because we knew rain was predicted for the rest of the week, Mike and I decided to take the dogs to the off-leash park.  We stuffed our pockets with treats and poop bags and tennis balls and were on our way.  A few blocks from home, while Valentine was crouched to do her business, a homeless man with a long grey beard walked up and reached out for her.  Thinking the man was trying to pet Valentine, who does not like to be touched by strangers, Mike leapt between them, laughing and warning to be careful because the little yellow one bites.

She doesn’t, actually, but she is an unpredictable little dog and while most days she’d froth at the mouth and lunge at anyone trying to pet her, that day she just squatted by the tree, doing her business.  She didn’t seem at all bothered when the homeless man began chanting and petting the tree under which she pooped, but I was not pleased and neither was Mike.  We couldn’t wait for her to finish and when she was done we couldn’t walk away fast enough.  Then I glanced over my shoulder and saw that he was following us.

I wanted to believe he was just headed in the same direction, but it was a little disconcerting that he insisted on walking so close to us.  When he started chanting about white devils and stolen dogs I got a little nervous.  I looked over at Mike and he grinned and suggested that when we get to the market, I give him the dogs and go inside, and let him talk to “our friend”.  So I stayed calm, because my husband had a plan, and it was a good plan.  The market was less than a block away and I could all ready see the usual crowd gathered in front.  I was sure that once we were surrounded by people the whole thing would dissipate and Mike wouldn’t even need to address the guy.

For the next part of the story to make sense, I need to explain that our neighborhood market is not like those sprawling, glittering Mecca’s of rare wines and organic canned soup you find in suburbia.  Our market is a tiny, dingy market with aisles so narrow you can’t fit a cart through them.  It’s so small it could fit in the deli section of most suburban super markets.  It’s so small that when I stand at the checkout paying for my groceries, my butt rubs against the butt of the cashier at the checkout behind me.

So when I got inside the store and realized the man had followed me in, I kind of freaked out.  I ducked into the cereal aisle, walking so fast I was practically running.  I looked over my shoulder and he was there.  I started feeling claustrophobic.  My heart was racing, my breath quickened and my limbs tingled.  I turned into the canned food aisle and the man followed me.  The next time I looked over my shoulder he waved his hands in the air, bared his teeth and growled.

To be continued…