There Is A Rose In Spanish Harlem (Me!)

We have always said that the day we take our youngest child to college we will not come right home that first night. Awash in nostalgia, we would wipe our tears, turn north to New York City, and drown our sorrows in exotic cuisine and art exhibits and parks and architecture and layers of history until we find that we are perfectly fine and content being Siegenthaler, party of 2, once again.

Well, two things about that.

In His goodness, the Lord ordained that our nest won’t be empty after all. My niece Erica is going to live with us for a while and work and study here.  And we are most glad. We weren’t really ready for empty nest anyway.  And, second, my new business dictates that I be home for a class early the next morning after I make Will’s dorm bed in Belz Hall and leave him under his own recognizance.

So, as Robert Burns said, the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley, and the NYC transition plan seemed to be ganging agley.

But by God’s grace it is going to happen, just a little early – today! Hooray for an early-August lull before the school year starts.  And for an Airbnb “third floor walk-up. Will that be a problem?”  Not at all, I scoff from my one-level rancher. And hooray that our lair is in Spanish Harlem on a street called Tito Puente. Allow me to romanticize it.  And for the Manhattos Indians and the early Dutch settlers and every homeless, tempest-toss’d immigrant yearning to breathe free! Right now, my children are really glad they aren’t going with us.  I’m unbearable when it comes to the grand human story.

Our plans include the following, quite out of order:

*Walking our feet to bloody nubs
*A walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and a tenement-appreciation moment; that chapter of NY history slays me
*Biking through Central Park
*Dining in Queens with Ben and Kim Kaufmann, true food connoisseurs
*Amateur Night At The Apollo in Harlem – you’re jealous over this one, aren’t you?
*Freedom Tower and the Memorial Pools of the World Trade Center
*The Museum of the City of New York
*MoMA- photography exhibit
*Shopping at Century 21; Andrew for sunglasses and me for a new school bag (CCS co-workers, I finally threw out the tattered pink polka-dot one with no rubber left on the wheels)
*Browsing some antique shops and finding a little piece of the city to take home
*The Highline – thanks to Will Hogue for this pearl!
*Columbia University, St. John the Divine, Riverside Church and its tall tower and view
*Greenwich Village literary hotspots and Washington Square
*Abyssinian Baptist, Harlem YMCA, The Cotton Club
*Pizza in Staten Island with the Baldinis – Hey, y’all!  DeNino’s for “The Garbage Can”?
*Book stores, ethnic food, and coffee better than we can make at home which is saying something
*Subway and bus lines
*People-watching, picture-taking, blogging it all in
*Post cards from the bodega
*Another week of Andrew’s beard growth for the general amusement of Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church
*Time to talk and laugh and read and think and sleep a little
*Return quenched with cool urban cultures and glad to be back in time to take Will to college and to welcome Erica to our favorite little town

In short, a leisurely, knockabout week.  🙂
And if you don’t think we can accomplish all this, then you don’t know Andrew.



It Was The Kind Of Day . . .

~ It was the kind of day when every dog on my running route barked, not with the joy of being a dog, but AT me.

~ It was the kind of day when I had a technological success that I can never repeat because I have no idea how I did it.

~ It was the kind of day when the crepemyrtles were one scant day past their perfection.

~ It was the kind of day to buy Adirondack chairs at the new Walmart and then place them in a neighborly, Joanna-Beatty-Taft way in the front yard, recline, sip tea, and glimpse through the hemlocks the back of the new Walmart.

~ It was the kind of day when a friend told Andrew to send something to her phone and he responded that he didn’t have a Smartphone because he is a luddite, and she said yes she knew what a luddite was because she looked it up on her Smartphone.

~ It was the kind of day to regret never mastering algebra and calculus because I have to teach kids in a few weeks how to score high on a test that includes both, but also a day to pull myself up by my bootstraps and resolve that any woman with a grain of sense can ‘simplify a cubed root with variables’!  It isn’t rocket science.  It’s a recipe for cooking down an herbed rutabaga stew.


~ It was the kind of day to visit the girls – and allied children I claim as mine – and marvel at who they are.




DSCN4748        DSCN4749          DSCN4864

13702396_1106462936094388_954237630_oAdrienne, Eliot, Mad-Dog, Abby, Eliza, Justin, Callie, Will, Sarah

~ It was the kind of day when a dollar bought a squeeze bottle for soap at the kitchen sink, because pretty matters.

~ It was the kind of day to discover that if I lay on the left side of the bed, I can see the mountain as I read the Bible – “Then sings my soul, my Savior, God, to Thee. How great Thou art!”

It was that kind of day.