Tuesday, November 8, 2011

One is silver, the other gold

Sorry for my lack of updates! Sometimes when on vacation, I’ll manage to get one or two in, but this time I just enjoyed the moment(s) and didn’t worry about updating. I’ll have lots more to write about various cool things we did (Eastern State Penitentiary was just incredible, and there was an abandoned places bonus in Greenwich Village: St. Vincent’s Hospital. We couldn’t get in, but I got some neat photos.), but today’s entry will be the people entry.

Dana and BethOur first meet-up was with our long-time blogger friend Dana. He was sitting on his porch soaking up the sunshine, and we were happy to join him and have a beer or two as we talked. We laughed about how our friendship started with a bizarre news story I posted concerning a man arrested for mowing the lawn wearing nothing but sandals and a dog collar. Dana and I had a long and hilarious email exchange naming various footwear and headgear, like cowboy boots and a fez, or saddle shoes and a fedora. He took us up to his apartment on the third floor and showed us his balcony where he feeds the birds, and then he showed us his paintings. I’m a big fan of abstract art, so I absolutely loved them, and we talked about the things we saw in the paintings, the feelings they engendered, and his techniques. He has begun showing some of his art with a group in his community, and I hope others enjoy them as much as I did!

After that, we headed out for a stroll in the park by the Delaware River. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and as we walked, we worked up an appetite. We went to a place I’d found online, and Dana said it was the best restaurant in town, so that sounded good to us! We got there at four o’clock, an hour before they served dinner, so we had drinks and appetizers and more conversation. We eventually ordered dinner, and there was more conversation (I keep thinking of the Lewis Carroll poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter” and this stanza: “The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things: Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--Of cabbages--and kings--And why the sea is boiling hot--And whether pigs have wings.”), well into the evening. I swear, I think we sat there for probably five hours! We agreed to meet for breakfast Friday morning, when we were heading out for New York.

Dana and KenI found another place online, said to be the best breakfast in town, so we were batting a thousand when it came to good places to eat! I was delighted to see Scrapple, that regional Pennsylvania-Dutch delicacy, on the menu, but I assure you I did not order it. I remember my Mom making “fried mush” when I was a kid, and no sir, I did not like it. Fried mush is just made of cornmeal, but Scrapple is fried mush on steroids. It’s the non-PETA approved version of fried mush, with bits and pieces of pork parts in it. Yeah, I stuck with an omelet. But I did get to have some grits, which I love every once in a while. You generally can’t get them in restaurants around here, and I was surprised (but happy) to see them on the menu there! Mmm, grits with butter and salt. Oh yeah! [snapping out of my food flashback]

Anyway, there was more talk and agreement that it was a wonderful meeting and that we are now and forever fast friends. Dana expressed sadness that he might never see us again, but we travel quite a bit, and when we again make our way to the east coast (another trip to D.C. might be in the works eventually), he will always be on our list to see. He is truly a fascinating man, with many wonderful tales of his days in the theater. I am very grateful to have met him, and honored to be his friend.

Ken Doug Lisa BethI actually skipped a day in there, because in between our dinner with Dana and our breakfast on Friday, we met with another long-time blogger friend, Lisa. Her and her husband came into town to do a little shopping, and were kind enough to meet us halfway between their farm and Philadelphia. They were incredibly sweet and so easy to talk to, and it really seemed like we’d known each other for ages, rather than meeting for the first time! We laughed about how we’re usually kind of introverted and can be somewhat shy, but it honestly just felt so relaxed and comfortable. I rarely feel that at ease with someone I’m just meeting, but I remember exchanging some heartfelt emails with Lisa about several things, including her efforts to quit smoking. She is still smoke-free, and I am so proud of her! Yay, Lisa! Both her and Doug were wonderful people, and we hope that they might be able to stop by our place in a couple of weeks on their way to Chicago to see some friends. We would love to have them visit!

Then it was off to New York City. We met Friday night with another long-time friend, Raquel. I’ve known Raquel since PRE-blogging days, when we both had web pages rather than blogs! We met for the first time in 2005, so it had been far too long since we got together. We walked around the financial district a bit (that’s where we were staying) and then had dinner at an Italian place near Fulton Market. (I had always heard about Fulton Fish Market...apparently it no longer operates as a fish market, but there are lots of shops and restaurants in the area.) More great conversation with a friend I love dearly, and it was wonderful to see her. The food was SO good, and we had to have some tiramisu for dessert, along with a chocolate gelato with espresso sauce. Dammit, I’m going into food flashbacks again! We found a cool brewery in the area and had a couple of drinks and more conversation and lots of laughs.

RaQ Stephen BethOn Saturday, her long-time friend (I keep using that phrase, and I keep thinking “Me love you long-time!” Gahhh!) and one of my newer Facebook friends, Stephen, came up from his home in Connecticut to meet up with us. Or as he corrected me, he came DOWN from Connecticut. Whatever! They came down to our hotel (I got the direction right that time), we walked over to Zuccotti Park to check out Occupy Wall Street (more soon), tried to see the Sept. 11 Memorial but were unsuccessful (more soon), and then just did some strolling around Manhattan. Doesn’t that sound cool? Yeah, we just strolled around Manhattan. (Yes, Manhattan is a big place. We just strolled around a very small portion of Manhattan.) I enjoyed meeting Stephen, and don’t tell him this, but I found him charming and funny and very fun to be around!

Then we headed UPtown to Raquel’s place, hung out and talked for a bit before heading out to dinner. Got to pet the puppies and say hi to Pidge (the pigeon), as well as looking at Raquel’s mom’s incredible paintings, which are replicas of old-school masters. Just amazing work. Dinner was at a Spanish place that Raquel chose in Greenwich Village. Oh, the food, the FOOD! In a wonderful turn of events, Raquel’s mom joined us for dinner, and Gloria is fascinating and so much fun! They are of Spanish heritage, so they pretty much did all the ordering of the tapas...I wasn’t even going to TRY to pronounce it! Ken and I split a paella, and oh my...I had never had paella before, and it was every bit as good as Raquel said it would be. The crusty bits on the edges...oh mama. I’m actually salivating as I write this. Then it was back to Raquel’s for a bit, but we were pretty much in a food coma by that point, so after more conversation and an invite over to Gloria’s apartment next to Raquel’s, we made our way back to the hotel. A very good day.

La BotaWe had hoped to meet with another friend, David, on Sunday for brunch, but he had a friend emergency to deal with and couldn’t make it. We were just happy to hear that all was well with him, and it’s good to know that he was being a friend to someone in crisis. Next time, for sure!

There are others we would have loved to have met on this vacation, but there are only so many hours in a day. However, the people we did meet were charming, fascinating, and just generally super cool people. I have no doubt that the friends we meet the next time around will be every bit as wonderful.

Thanks to Dana, Lisa and Doug, Raquel, Stephen, and Gloria for meeting with us, and thank you for being my friends. You are beyond precious metals…you are gems.