Monthly Archives: November 2015

Shopping in Brooklyn

Driving into Brooklyn to go shopping with Rachel and Riley sounded like a wonderful idea — so many shops in one neighborhood.  Court Street is a teeming street that transverses Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood.  Rachel and I had a plan to pick up some things for Thanksgiving weekend and then have lunch somewhere interesting.  I always forget how hectic it is shopping in Brooklyn.  Even during the week at 10:00 am, there are people pushing and of course in a hurry.  

We drove off feeling ever-so-clever to have made a reservation at a parking garage close to our destinations — Sahadi’s, Trader Joe’s, and d’Amico’s.  First problem, a police crime scene that blocked off an entire street and caused even more traffic than usual on Smith Street.  Second problem, construction blocked the parking garage so there was no way to access it.  Still we were optimistic and excited about the outing.  Miraculously found a 2-hour metered spot right on Court Street only 2 blocks from Trader Joe’s. We began at Sahadi’s which is an amazing food store specializing in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods of every description.

As we entered, with barely enough room for the stroller and the two of us, Rachel educated me about how to get service. Every station — flours, grains, olives, dried fruits, candies — has a server who expects you to take a number. sahadisAs we waited for our number to be called, I listened to Mr. Sahadi give a talk to a walking food tour group. He described how his father purchased the building in 1946 much to the dismay of his family. The store has changed little over the years and has been run by family members since then. It was difficult not to buy one of everything and we happily left with our bags of dried figs, Lebanese olives, crackers, and candy for Dave! Onward to Trader Joe’s!

trader_joes_v1_460x285 Trader Joe’s on Court Street looks like a bank from the outside and is anything but once your get inside. While it is similar to other Trader Joe’s stores, the frantic nature of this one and the narrow aisles adds to the charm (if you can call it that) of shopping in busy Brooklyn. When we had accumulated all of our items, including a few that Riley put in the cart and I didn’t notice until I got home, we got on line to check out. Here’s where this store is different from anyone I’d ever seen. There were at least 40 check out stations all numbered. A person had us shuffling along until a red flag with a white number started waving indicating an available checkout! We were told to move to station 23, got all checked out, entered the drawing for a $20 gift card because we brought out own bags, and happily exited. At that point we decided not to eat in the neighborhood but to go back to Rachel’s Park Slope area which I thought was crowded!

We headed to d’Amico’s for coffee. I typically order it online (as does my friend, Robin) but thought I’d save postage since I was already on Court Street. Unknown D’Amico’s has been run by the same family since 1948 when Emanuel d’Amico, a seaman from Sicily, rented the building on Court Street where Frank d’Amico still runs the coffee shop. Known for their roasted coffee, they supply a number of restaurants and lots of people like me who appreciate their hand roasted blends. Six pounds of coffee later, we headed back to Rachel’s for lunch we picked up at the Bagel Pub in Park Slope. The crowds were exhausting, loud, pushy and, for the most part, friendly. But, it is not a relaxing way to shop. I wouldn’t trade it for anything because it was fun to get things I do not have access to up here in Lord’s Valley, but for once I was happy to get back to the quiet of the woods. What a marvelous day that ended with rock tea, a Riley specialty. rocktea I’ll end this as I often do — I am a lucky woman!

Getting Ready for Winter

Getting ready for winter has dominated my thinking lately and, as obsessed as I am about weather, I am equally obsessed with getting as ready as I possibly can for the cold. Now that the leaves have all fallen and for the most part the acorns are finished too, my yard is as clean as it is going to get. The guys came to blow all the leaves and carry them out to the woods behind the house so the driveway and stairs are a lot more accessible and much more safe. I also went to Home Depot for ice melt since I ran out last year so I wanted to start early. 170 pounds of ice melt later, I distributed it in places that I can easily access.

One place that I keep ice melt is a black garbage can about a quarter of the way down the stairs. If I have to I can spread ice melt from the back of my car to get to the can, then I can distribute the ice melt from there down the rest of the stairs. Over the summer I stored the can in a small shed downstairs because animals got to it and bashed it up a bit but put it back recently. Even with two 40-pound bags inside, something — bear or deer — turned it over and pulled the bags out. This led me to think about what the animals were doing.

The first time this happened, I assumed deer because of the salt even though this isn’t pure rock salt. But this time I thought the animals in this community are not threatened and are smart enough to think “black garbage can – food!” They must have been quite disappointed to only find the bags. It was an inconvenience that sent me looking for a bungee cord to put across the lid which now seems to have done the trick. I am waiting anxiously for the bears to hibernate so I can start putting my garbage at street level to be picked up on Monday mornings!

Michael was here this weekend and helped me wrangle the long and heavy hoses, shut off the water at the front outside tap, and do those things that require two people. This prompted me to reflect on how lucky we were in Tallahassee to leave things out all year and how often I come across tasks that need a second pair of hands! I feel well prepared — have put a small bucket of ice melt in the back of the car along with the windshield scrapers and the Prestone spray can of ice melt, RainX and paper towels. I will stock up on heavy things between Thanksgiving and Christmas — flour, sugar, soups, dog food — the items that are heavy to carry down the 40 stairs. If you can think of anything I’ve forgotten, please let me know. These are all things I never thought I’d have to deal with much less that would be right at the top of my list of things that need tending to. I guess it’s easy to take things for granted. I looked at Sydney going out tonight and thought about having to dig a trail or two for her when it snows. It was almost 60 degrees today. I need to stop thinking about snow and ice!

Autumn Leaves

Only one person who reads this blog will smile at the title.  My cousin, Jill, and I have had a longstanding joke about the song, Autumn Leaves (which is now going through my head).  In 1955, Roger Williams, a popular pianist, recorded the song Autumn Leaves and I got a copy of the music for me to play supposedly for my own enjoyment.  It was one of the few pieces that was a “popular” song rather than classical music. Every time we had company at the house, my parents made me play Autumn Leaves which ended with polite applause and took all the joy out of playing the piano for me except when I was alone. I’m sure a therapist could have a field day with this.

autumnleaves Anyway…Jill and I laughed about it even as I was selling my baby grand a few years back. Too large to take with me when I left Tallahassee, I had a wonderful relationship with the FSU School of Music which had graduate students work on it for over a year in 2010-2011. They sold the piano to a young man who was thrilled to have it and the money was used to send two graduate students to Europe to study refurbishing old pianos. When it came time for Jim’s Pianos to move it, there was no point keeping the piano bench and all the sheet music within so I sent it along with the piano except for Autumn Leaves. I thought it was appropriate to keep the music and the memories.

This time of year I think about the song as I watch and listen to the dramatic leaf blizzards that have just about denuded the trees here in northeastern Pennsylvania. leavesinyard2 My yard pictured here is absolutely knee deep in dried leaves that, as you know from my previous post, get very very slippery when wet! It’s hard to believe that I already had the yard guys here once to blow the entire yard, driveway, stairs, and deck. In fact, I swept the deck on Tuesday morning because I was having friends for dinner and by early afternoon it was as if I had done nothing! My friend, Robin, sent me a link to an article about not raking leaves for all sorts of environmental/habitat reasons but it was clear that whoever wrote this does not deal with this volume of falling leaves. There was a comment not to blow the leaves because of noise pollution and use of fossil fuels to power the leaf blower. Again, I say this person has never had to deal with the incredible quantity of leaves or the consequences of driving on them after a rain or walking on them at any time.

While the weather has been mild I know winter is coming. I am enjoying the autumn, the memories of sitting and playing the piano even though I was embarrassed to play the same song over and over again, and the smile on my face with the song running through my head. Wherever you are, I hope your experience with autumn leaves provides a chuckle.