Week 14 – 5/08 – 5/14

May 13th was Global Big Day – a celebration of birding neatly combined with one an impressively expansive citizen science initiative. One of the happy accidents of my NYC adventure is just how much birding I’ve managed to do. It’s become more of an interest in recent years, but hiking is oddly counter-productive on the birding front. Too much movement and too much distance to cover. It’s a challenge to hike here which suddenly leaves me with time to explore smaller, denser areas at times more amenable to actually seeing the animals as opposed to just hoofing it past them.

Saturday
Weather was miserable, but Saturday morning I visited Jamaica Bay Nature Sanctuary. The walk around West Pond took about an hour – a nice stroll accompanied by tree swallows and mockingbirds. I had the place to myself which made taking photos really quite pleasant in spite of the dreariness. This is definitely a place I’ll need to revisit.

Sunday
Not a damn thing. Had a rest day. I wrote some – not here mind you – but elsewhere. I reviewed some number of my older short stories which I weren’t as god awful as I remembered them. That does not seem to jive with just how difficulty it has been to find published homes for any of them, but that doesn’t much change the fact that I find them eminently readable…at least for myself.

Writing, Exercise, Photography. Those are the three main goals I’ve set for myself – there are of course others as well – but since arriving here I’ve managed the latter two quite handedly. The first has suffered though. Too many other tasks, too many distractions. Efforts have been made however and I’ve revised my own approach. I now have a professional column I write bimonthly so I’m not without some limited degree of success. I will however need more days like Sunday – quiet and uninterrupted – to make these efforts pay off. Soon! Maybe just maybe soon.

Other Stuff
Jersey Mike’s – deli chain. Similar to Jimmy John’s. Not bad, but a bit annoying to get to from work.
Gyro World – in contention with Avli for best greek I’ve had since moving (or maybe ever). I don’t crave Greek that often but I always enjoy it once I’ve gotten it. Solid choice and decent nearby parking.
Douglaston Deli – supposedly they have the best potato salad in NYC. It wasn’t bad but I find that claim questionable. Nice to have finally found a good deli though. Huzzah.
MaggieMoos – Excellent ice cream! I’m slowly growing find of Bayside. Quite walkable once you’ve gotten to the center area. Lively, lots of restaurants, and little gems like Maggie Moos. It’s sort of like an off brand Coldstone, but the ice cream is a little fluffier and it appears to be independently run.

Next week I’m on vacation – the second of four this year – to Iceland. Instead of having a specific weekly report I’ll likely just combine everything into one large Iceland dossier. Should be lots of photos. It will take me a bit to get together though so…wish me luck in the land of ice and fire. Cannot wait to see me some Puffins…

Final Thoughts

Week 13 – 5/01 – 5/07

Week 13 provided the perfect contrast between old life and new. Saturday I parallel parked, hopped on a train, then rushed to a subway all to eat dinner near Times Square and visit a whimsically small gangster museum. Sunday I returned to New Paltz for the annual Ragatta, an equally whimsical bit of culture surrounded by the gorgeous Hudson Valley

Saturday
To prepare myself for a day of tall buildings I visited the Alley Pond Environmental Center. That side of the park is actually quite fantastic and I added a number of new bird species to my list.

I did not take my camera to the city, but Carmines was excellent. The Museum of the American Gangster is the last minute undergraduate version of a proper museum – vaguely spurious information, tacky photocopied exhibit descriptions, inconsistent tone and depth – but really quite fun. I mistakenly perhaps got myself the student rate and for $12 the two or three room museum with accompanying tour is charming. I can’t say I learned anything too specific and even the premise – a museum about American organized crime – feels thin, but it made for a lovely walk around the East Village. One of the nicer parts of town for sure and easily visited.

I don’t have my sealegs about town yet, but I’ve got an ever-improving mental map of NYC. On returning home I was almost able to recollect everywhere I was. Progress!

Sunday
The New Paltz Ragatta is the happiest day of the year and not even overcast weather can change that. Sadly I didn’t take all that many photos – too busy enjoying New Paltz being its weird happy paltz self – but before hand I took a stroll around the Nyquist Reserve. I also took what is becoming my favorite photo of Skytop.

Other Stuff
Veranda – lovely italian place in Bayside. Bit pricey.
Halal on Wheels – small food truck near Hofstra. Food was excellent but too slow to make consistent use of.
BKNY – decent but unexceptional Thai place in Bayside. Luckily even average Thai is fantastic.

I miss New Paltz. No other way around it. It’s a truly gorgeous place and far more attuned to my particular sense of things. The city goes well enough and I’ve carved a lovely niche around myself – I certainly can’t complain financially or professionally. One does await a return though – perhaps to New Paltz – or perhaps to somewhere else entirely. Each turn of the wheel has brought something new. I have no idea when that might be and I’ll keep up with grand metropolitan adventures as long as necessary, but it’ll be nice to return home someday…wherever that might turn out to be.

Final Thoughts

Week 12 – 4/24 – 4/30

Friday
‘I love fishing…’

Whenever I hear a line like that I find myself seeking clarification. And sure, some people probably do love fishing…or whatever hobby they’re referring to…but this professed love so often translates as nothing more than a few rare instances scattered across a lifetime. I don’t necessarily mean this as a judgement – whoever has time for anything – but still; One fishing trip, a fisherman does not make.

In my own case, I might genuinely argue I love hiking, perhaps photography, travel for sure, and reading even more. I could not, however, say I love live music.

Truth is, in thirty years I’ve seen barely a half dozen band shows and only maybe a dozen orchestral concerts. Each has been enjoyable, but my approach to music has never been terribly social or anthropological in nature. At most I appreciate famous historical concerts with sense of wistfulness but I’m hardly ever driven to seek shows even for bands I really enjoy – with a few noted exceptions.

Friday was one such example.

Bonobo is not, as far as I know, a tremendously popular band but they managed to fill ‘Terminal Five‘. I suppose I’d describe them as slow electronica, but the music isn’t that slow and the quartet of violin players make electronica seem questionable. I might attempt to call them moody, international, akin to a sort of electronic folk…but why describe poorly when I can simply link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmitHcHqsCI

With such an abstract sense of genre, I had no idea what I might find in person. The audience was lively though and diverse. The music was a hair loud – it always is – and the venue surprisingly crowded, but it felt youthful in all the ways I usually do not. I wouldn’t often seek a group of bouncing 20-30 somethings in a somewhere city warehouse…but now that I’ve made a thing of perhaps I might go see more? Or maybe not? One good concert, a concert-going makes not either.
Saturday
In the morning I planted trees at Marine Park. I had originally found the program through the Land Conservancy but it was really managed by NYC Parks with assistance from another local land conservancy specializing in the city. The park itself was small but protects a decent shoreline. The planting was an effort to fight against invasive grasses that do little for the local populations. Prior groups had already mowed the area and post-holed the ground. All that remained was the planting itself.

Truth is, I should have made a more significant effort to do some volunteerism long before now. Here in NYC I find my options for environmental volunteerism decided limited whereas upstate there were more than I knew what to do with. I made an effort though and it felt good having my hands in the soil. When this whole adventure ends, I very much need to find a place where I can plant trees, maintain trails, and count birds. Soon. Coming very soon.

Evening I ate at Buddy’s Kosher Deli. The red potato salad was noteworthy. May very well get a second look.

Sunday
I mostly caught up on errands, but I did attend volunteer day at the Fire Island National Seashore. I was hopeful I could leverage the civic spirit from sunday into a gig for the national park service. Sadly their only weekend availability was interpretive roles. I was and am far more keen on resource management. Sadly, my work hours and theirs are simply not aligned. In a way, though, it might be for the best. Fire Island was lovely to visit the prior weekend but it is 45+ minutes away. The travel pollution alone is not inconsiderable…

My weekend was otherwise spent exercising, writing a bit, and doing all the other things that keep life moving forward productively. I’ve overburdened my time with tasks I cannot possibly complete, but I’m still trying to hold it all together. Maybe next weekend I’ll finally take a break…

Fat bloody chance.

But as always, we move forward.

Final Thoughts