Archive for the ‘NY’ Tag

Wood You Believe Number 19?   7 comments

The following is a true story.

About ten days before Christmas I went to my mailbox and found a Christmas card addressed to Mrs. Ena Wiggan. Although it’s not unheard of for me to receive a neighbor’s mail, I didn’t recognize the name. Then I read the rest of the address


I do live at 19 Wood……… but it’s not Woodhaven, and, as tempting as the West Indies may be with tomorrow’s forecast of single digit temps, I make my home in Putnam County NY, not Jamaica. To make it even more mind-boggling, this misplaced Christmas card had originated in Florida!

Is there anyone out there who can tell me how a letter could travel 1,000+ miles in the wrong direction to the wrong country, based solely on the number 19, and a road that begins with the word Wood?

Two different people told me it means I should take a trip to Jamaica, but I did the next best thing, I put the whole thing in a new envelope and mailed it to Mrs. Ena Wiggan and her family.

So far so good, it hasn’t come back!

Two Words of Advice for Quarterback Mark Sanchez   3 comments

Hi Mark,

I’m not a real big football fan but I watch games. Actually I watch the instant replays. I’m usually reading  or checking my email when you’re playing but  when I hear yelling I know something good happened. So I look up and wait for the replay. This way I get to see all the important plays without all that huddling and standing around.

The reason I’m writing is because I heard the Jets are bringing  in that Tim Tebow. I saw you on TV saying  kind words about him but it has to hurt. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you’ll play great and they won’t need Mr Tebow.  But just in case (you can’t have too many  just in cases) Yes, just in case things start to go downhill, here’s a word of advice. No, here’s two words of advice:

That’s right. Depew Park .

In case you’ve been so involved in your playing that you never delved into Jets history, here’s why Depew Park is the place for  you  guys.

Now I’m sure you know enough Jets history to know what happened  to the Jets in 1969. But if you want  the details ask that nice Mr. Namath, Joe Willie, BroadwayJoe. He’ll tell you all about the good old days.

So what has the team been up to for the last forty three years?  I hear you tried practicing out on Long Island but Hofstra didn’t bring any rings.  Neither did going all the way upstate to Cortland,  still ring-less. Florham Park? New Jersey – nuff said.

Maybe Peekskill’s worth another try. Come on, I’ll take you on a tour of the park.

Here’s the field. As you can see in winter, it’s not very crowded.

And when you need a break, you can just chill out with a Gatorade or two.

The pool’s closed now but in August when you start training, it will be great for cooling off after running sprints.

Or maybe you just want a quite place to go over those plays.

Grill a steak or two after practice?

Shoot a few hoops?

Hit a few balls across the net?

As you can see, winter’s a quiet time, just us hard core runners

and dog walkers

So, next time you see Coach Rex Ryan, take him aside and give him the good word. No, two good words. Depew Park.

And as for Timmy Tebow, well we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.


A St Patrick’s Carol   2 comments

The Spirit of St Patricks Past

St Patrick’s Day was never one of my favorite days. It started in high school. Back in the 60’s if you attended a Catholic girl’s high school in Manhattan chances are you marched  in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Some schools were competitive, requiring their students to spend time after school or on Saturdays drilling march steps and turns so each line would fan out onto sunny Fifth Avenue from their staging area on a side street with  kaleidoscopic precision while the Irish-flag waving crowd cheered them on. Left, Right. Left Right. Eyes right at St Patrick’s Cathedral to be honored by a wave or nod from Cardinal Spellman,  all in hope of winning the Cardinal’s medal or trophy or whatever it was they coveted.

The reason I don’t know what it was is because my school was not one of those.We just had to show up;  no practicing – unless you counted that one P.E. class devoted to marching  back and forth in the gym to blaring John Phillipe Sousa music. And since we didn’t start off early with the contenders we could sleep late. The down side of that was by the time we assembled on 46th St, the sun’s rays no longer reached down between the tall grey office  buildings. But the wind stayed for us. Have you ever been in midtown Manhattan in late afternoon in March?  No? How about  a windswept canyon? Been there? Well then you know what I mean when I say that by the time it was our turn to move  toward Fifth avenue, we’d frozen off  our as-pirations of school spirit.

At about 4:00 we spilled out, amoeba-like onto Fifth Avenue. The crowds were long-gone but the green stripe remained, and we had other decorations that our friends in those  competitive schools had not; random piles of horse plop, soon to be scooped up by the marching contingent to our rear – the Department of Sanitation with their brooms and shovels.  It would be untrue to say we had no spectators. We did, captive ones : Nannies and toddlers on the Central Park  side of the Avenue, waiting for a break in the action  so they could dash across  Fifth Avenue with their carriages after a day in Central Park. There  were also the dog walkers – ditto for them. On the building side of Fifth, there were the doormen ducking out of  their lobbies for a smoke.  and  when we reached the reviewing stand at St Pats? Empty unless you counted the orange white and green bunting fluttering in the wind or the abandoned folding chairs.

We would have  a crowd though, up at 86th Street,  it would swallow us up as we approached the official Parade finish line at Park Avenue  – a crowd of drunks, no , excuse me,  revelers: office workers of all ranks, sprung  loose from their  nine-to-five’s and intent on partying to the max, tourists, college kids from near and far. The drinking age back then was eighteen  which made it easier for my high school friends with their doctored birth certificates to try to pass for legal

As for me,  it was all too much. I won’t say the atmosphere charged with enough beer fumes to give a contact high frightened me, it just made me uneasy.  And so I’d leave my friends to celebrate for me, and make my way to the bus stop to wait for the 86th Street Crosstown to whisk me through park and over to the sanity of the West Side.

Maybe it’s the contrarian in me, but I bristle at being required to do something, even party. That’s why Years Eve is  #1 on my hated days list,  followed by Valentine’s Day, impose  romance doesn’t appeal to me either. So is St Patrick’s Day #3 on the list? No, I don’t hate St Patrick’s Day, it’s just that ‘I’ve never felt it was mine to celebrate. I may have had an  Irish American grandfather but I also had a German American grandmother and a grandmother and grandfather who’d emigrated from the West Indies so somewhere along the way any bag pipes or Danny Boys in my gene pool got drowned out. I know they say everyone’s Irish on St Paddy’s Day but that was just talk to me.

But flash forward…  never mind how many years later but 48 miles to the north where this St Patrick’s Day found Marcos Dog and I following our Saturday routine We enjoy our tranquil morning walks  all week but we’re city people so we need our fix of sidewalking! And downtown Peekskill is but six miles from our house.

Peekskill is an old river city, its multi-cultural population a mix of aging old time residents, young professional families restoring the city’s abundant crop of beautiful old Victorians, and Latino laborers and their families sharing Victorians that have been divided into apartments. Accordingly, the downtown area is a mix of upscale restaurants, art  galleries, artists ‘lofts, antiques stores, as well as bodegas and bars.

Latino Spirit(s)

Ubiquitous posters advertise  Spanish  bands and groups playing each weekend at the bars and clubs catering to the  young, single, and probably lonely young men. The first one I come upon this week displayed in a bodega. The usual buxom dark-haired beauty in the forefront  shares the poster with the handsome guitar-laden musicians. But it is the words that have me smiling and shaking my head. St Patrick’s Day. Cerveza Verde. Shots de tequila. Margaritas. Botellos. Ah well, I think You don’t have to be yada… yada

African-American Spirit #1

I smile and continue on. Next we come upon a cluster  of people, clutching take-out coffee cups and smoking cigarettes  in front of one of the downtown churches. It must be ten o’clock, The doors will soon be opening to admit them to the AA meeting.  I pass  two older women, one black, one white. The black woman proclaims, “My man is gonna cook corned beef and cabbage . I’m gonna be eating good tonight!” Yes, you don’t have to be I____

Kindred Spirit

Finally Marcos decides the walks over, time to head back to the  truck. As we pass a stately apartment ,a preppy-looking bi-racial teenager laden with a lacrosse net cuts across the grass.   “Happy St Patrick’s Day” he calls. His smile is so infectious I fond myself returning it along with his wish. Ah well, like me, he could be part .You don’t have to be IR___

African-American Spirit #2

But the universe is not through with me yet. That afternoon one of my errands takes me to the beer and soda distributor in town. I walk over to the bottle return area and the  young African-American young man  in charge is wearing his usual broad smile.. as well as a string of green beads interspersed with glittery shamrocks. I see you’re ready to celebrate.” I say. You don’t have to be IRI__

But we’re not finished yet.

Post script #1. I turn on the 11 0,clock news.


Alright, Already. You don’t gave to be IRIS__

Post script #2 The next day I visit the cemetery to do some early planting. I look up at my brother’s grave while digging and while I can’t say I’m noticing it for the first time, but the engraving adorning it pops out at me. A Celtic cross!


I give up. You don’t have to be IRISH to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Just don’t make me march!

A Kingdom is Born   1 comment

Fremont’s World is 0.25 acres in the town of Putnam Valley, NY. it is also the land on which the House of Mars sits. It has no signs. It does have a flag, though – several, in fact.

Every kingdom needs a flag, and wherever Fremont lived he declared his kingdom. This particular kingdom was formally recognized in  the summer of 1999.

I am a night person. I am also a night eater. I rarely sit down to dinner much before ten. This means in summer I grill  by the light of the moon with a lot of help from the floodlights on the deck. One particularly sultry August night, I stood, spray bottle in hand,  ready for the the usual flare-up that is part and parcel of barbecuing chicken. Above me, up  in the  woods,the  thick canopy of moon- lit leaves rustled in the  breeze.

I guess they rustled, I could see them flutter. Can something rustle if you can’t hear it? Like the sound of one hand clapping? No,  that’s not right;  like that tree that falls in the woods when no one’s there?  That’s it! On this night the air was so saturated with the sibilant droning of  amorous crickets and cicadas that it seemed to close in on me. I felt as if I were in the middle of a black velvet painting.

Soon, though I was able to make out the sound of deliberate plodding foot steps making  their way down through the sloping woods,  and the impressive silhouette of Fremont made its way into the light. He braced his front feet against the stucco retaining wall and landed with an oomph, then made made his way to the deck. It was the first time I felt part of the world he ventured into every night. “So this is your world, Fremont, “I said, reaching down to rub his head. “I like it.” And thus Fremont’s World  came into being.

The next spring  I decided we were being selfish. There were plenty of cats who needed a home and we  had more than enough room. It was time that Fremont shared his world with another cat. I can’t say I went into full blown search mode. A nagging question held me back . What if Fremont didn’t get along with the newcomer? Even worse what if he turned out to be an aggressive cat and he made Fremont’s world miserable? So I kept my good intention on the back burner and May rolled into June and June into July.

Just after the fourth of July, I went in to work and my friend, Laura, mentioned that her neighbor, an animal lover to the nth degree, had found a mother cat and five  kittens, and was looking for good homes for them. I deemed it a sign; a companion for Fremont, emerging out of nowhere.

“You know I’ve been thinking about getting another cat,” I told her.’ “I want a male, though.Do you know if any of them are males?”

She promised to find out, and the next morning returned with the news. “There’s only one male, a black and white one.”

Black and white? A sign if ever there was one. And so Niles, who fit into the palm  of my hand when I brought him home, took up residency in Fremont’s World.

I  decided to introduce them gradually, confining Niles to  the  spare bedroom for a week so they could make each other’s acquaintance through sniffs under the door. The sniffs from Fremont’s side  were peppered with hisses, hisses that escalated into growls on the meet and greet day.

I opened the door slowly.  Niles bounded out,his tiny stick of a tail held high. I’d never seen Fremont arch his back before! He  turned and greeted the kitten with a raw hiss and a deep throated growl before retreating out his cat door. It was not an auspicious start but Niles was not the least bit phased.  Each time Fremont came back, the little munchkin would  sneak up on the giant at least quadruple his size, and flick at his tail,  darting away at the hiss and growl this elicited, but only for a second. And  so it went  with Fremont taking all he could and when  fed up, escaping through the flap of the cat door  into the refuge of his world.  I didn’t worry about tiny Niles getting out since the pet door was set in the dining room window and the little guy wasn’t quite up to jumping that high….

Or so I thought.  I was upstairs in the loft one morning, cleaning the litter box when I heard the flap slap shut. Fremont had gone out earlier and it was not his habit to return until dinner time so  that could mean only one thing. I ran down the steps and got to the screen door just in time to witness the  moment  Fremont’s world changed.

He had been sitting in the sun grooming himself  when  Niles landed and ran over to flick his tail with a “Hi Guess what!” attitude. Fremont did a double take then looked up at me as if to say”How could you let this little innocent out? He’s not ready for my world.”

Then he walked over to Niles and began to groom him with a gentle flick of his tongue. Little did he know that he was volunteering for   a permanent job.

The pact was made. Niles was a needy cat when it came to his Fremont. He needed his Fremont  to groom him. Fremont did. He needed to snuggle  up to his Fremont when it was cold. Fremont made room to accommodate him. Niles and Fremont, they weren’t inseparable. They carved up Fremont’s World into their own fiefdoms. When I arrived home from work each night, Fremont would appear out  from across the road and make his way up the stairs to the front yard while Niles would utter his customary “I’m on my way” cry from up in the woods, then descend amidst the sound of breaking twigs and crunching leaves to the backyard.

But when they were together, Fremont looked after his boy! 

It was idyllic.  I wish it could have gone on and on. But if it had, there would have been no House of Mars.

Posted February 16, 2012 by virginiafair in Cats, Uncategorized

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