Fifth post from Alfie and me, NYC 2019

Sunday 19th May dawned very hot and stayed that way. Alfie and I ended up going to Governor’s Island

– one of my NYC favourites. I had gone to Madison Square Park (Debbie was rehearsing with her band) but the anticipated Nepal celebration wasn’t happening and there was absolutely no grass for Alfie to lie on so I decided to hop back on the 1 and go to South Ferry.
On the subway and of course because of Alfie, I got chatting to a delightful couple from North Carolina and encouraged them to join me on the trip to the island – they were really happy to discover it – such a hidden gem to so many people!
It was lovely to be back there with the lush grass for Alfie to enjoy. Starbucks has disappeared, to be replaced by ‘Tom’s coffee’ which is delicious. Some art galleries were open in the old houses and I noted that in 2020 there will be a spa with views looking back at NYC. I expect it will be popular.
Alfie was very well behaved both on the Island and on the ferry, which was just as well as only service dogs are allowed. Interestingly, they have 3 border collies that they let out to chase off the geese and even have a border collie toy in the information point.
However, we have never seen them – I wonder what they would make of Alfie? We caught the 5.30 ferry back and were at Debbie’s by 6.30, staying in to do my writing and watch the final 2 episodes of ‘The red line’.
Monday 20th May was an even hotter day!  I visited some of the special ‘large bird’ sculptures on Broadway.
At 1.45 I took the subway to 79th street followed by the crosstown 79 bus all the way over to York Street on the very East of the island and to the Webster Library where I gave a talk on Mindfulness to an interesting group of all women, as it happened. I had arranged this with Maggie who had previously worked at the New York Library on Broadway. Genia popped over to hear me speak and we travelled back together.
After walking Alfie, Debbie and I went out to Juilliard for the last concert of the season: an amazing viola performance in the Paul Hall that was mainly solo. Returning home again, I walked Alfie in Riverside Park as the sun went down over the Hudson River (so lovely)
Tuesday 21st May was a very important day for the neighbourhood: “Goatham”!! New York is affectionately known as ‘Gotham’ – which means “Goat’s Town” in Anglo-Saxon. Author and NYC native Washington Irving started using the term in 1807 in his satirical periodical, Salmagundi.
The Park’s Department had advertised it well (we even had a poster in our elevator) and there were a large number of people – including several schools – to welcome the 24 goats from Upstate New York. They each have a profile on the fence adjacent to the area between 119th and 123rd in the park where they will be chomping their way through the weeds, poison ivy, etc.
Alfie was very interested in them and wore his Goatham bandana all day. I bought a $10 T shirt to support the park and the goats are settling in very well, with visitors all day long.
Later on, Alfie and I took the 1 down to Central Park and sat in Pain Quotidien while I caught up with my blog and chatted to people. Fortuitously, I bumped into Lisa, the English dog walker that I had met a month earlier. She had tried to contact me via my web account but it hadn’t gone through so it was lovely to meet up with her. 8 million people in NYC and we manage to bump into each other again!
At 10 a.m. on Wednesday 22 May and as arranged, Alfie and I met up with Lisa with the dog she was walking in “Tavern to Go” – now my favourite cafe. Tavern on the Green is at 66th and Central Park West in the Park and very overpriced. The same organisation run the take-away side in a wonderful garden behind the main building with string lights and trees – a quiet hidden oasis that it has taken me until now to find.
The coffee is good – and very cheap at $2.73 and they do a delicious bagel and cream cheese with chives for $3.50. When Lisa left I continued to sit in the garden (there is no need to rush off as there are many tables and few people find the place) to do my writing.
After returning home with Alfie I went downtown to Canal Street and the Arlo hotel for a celebration of the street art on the terrace with great views over to the Hudson. There was a guy doing silkscreening so I came away with a souvenir.
I returned home to cook and Dana arrived with cake for us all. It has been a year since I saw her – she left NYC for Portland, Oregon. We had a lot to catch up on, not least the results of her DNA test on that I am now very tempted to do. She is in NYC to play the oboe in an orchestra she belongs to.
Thursday 23rd May. It is difficult to believe that six weeks have gone and I only have 3 to go… My love affair with NYC is just as strong and my usual ripost when people ask why I keep returning “I feel alive in New York” is as true as ever. Alfie seems to be coping well this time, too. He has his CBD oil every day and I have bought an Assisi loop to bring relief to his hip dysplasia.
I finished ‘A cave in the snow’ about Tenzin Palmo that Natalie gave to me. Such a beautiful book: our philosophies are so similar but I could never do a 12 year retreat in a tiny cave sleeping 3 hours a night in a meditation box, never lying down! Alfie and I visited the goats at the end of our morning walk in Riverside Park. They really seem to enjoy the company and the vegetation is disappearing already!
Alfie and I went for coffee at ‘Tavern to Go’ where he can enjoy watching the world go by and I can write, usually followed by a leisurely stroll and ‘smells walk’ in Central Park but (as happens here) with no warning the sky became black and within a few seconds there was thunder and heavy rain. Alf and I rain to the subway at 66th and got home without being too wet.
When the storm had abated (and Alfie hates them) he let me know he needed to go out for a poo so we quickly visited Riverside Park so he could relieve himself before before I went off to 14th Street to the New School to see the end of year documentaries from the students: “Truth be Told”. The indoor garden of the New School has a number of trees and sculptures all based on the same theme.
There were 5 shorts, a couple of them very moving. The first was about 3 brothers running a service station and repair workshop in Queen’s. The second was an affecting documentary about a young black girl and her depressed father. The third was about newly arrived Chinese children in their East village school, the fourth was a documentary about recycling in NYC – fascinating.
The last was a short about a colourful, in every sense of the word. 74 year-old Manhattan resident called … who had lost her brother to AIDS. The young woman who made the documentary had just recently lost her brother too, so they had common ground. Both turned up wearing similar bright clothing, mainly orange.
There was a Q&A session with the 5 students and some of the subjects of their documentaries: It was a great evening followed by a delicious reception of mainly Eastern European food.
There is a phenomenon here, where people find out about receptions to be held after various events, like this particular evening, and do not attend them but gatecrash the receptions to stuff their plates with as much food as possible (and in some cases their bags!) so that those who have attended the event end up with nothing to eat! I was fascinated by one well-dressed woman who was behaving like that. There was also free wine and sparkling water. Genia explained that this is very common in NYC and that some people with barely enough to keep roofs over their heads do this frequently.
When I got home, a new series of “Elementary” was playing on Debbie’s TV. I really enjoyed it because Tamsin Grieg appeared in it.
The following day I awoke feeling sleepy but still managed to get to Riverside Park in time for Alfie to have his off-leash walk. After breakfast, Genia and I went with Alfie to the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum in the Inwood section of Manhattan; it is a Dutch Colonial style house constructed in 1784 of fieldstone, brick and wood, and is the oldest remaining farmhouse in Manhattan. It has a collection of artifacts dating to the Revolutionary War and a lovely 1/2 acre garden.
I have been meaning to visit the farmhouse for ages, only to find it closed ‘for reasons beyond our control’. I took a few pictures of the outside and garden and we had a quick stroll in Inwood Park before returning home to eat a wrap.
Alfie and I walked to ……. in the park at 107th in Riverside Park and I had a ‘fountain drink’ while Alfie barked at a few of the local dogs.
Debbie and I then set off to 66th street, to Good Shepherd Faith Presbyterian Church to see Dana play oboe with the Astoria Symphony Orchestra (sadly their last performance as they live all over the country and are all very busy musicians).
The programme was a real treat: Johannes Brahms ‘Academic Overture’ followed by Lili Boulanger’s ‘D’un soir triste’ and ‘D’un matin du printemps’ – what a talent and so sad that she died at 25.
The second set was Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade – Dana had some starring moments in it. It was great to finally see her play: she returns to Portland on Sunday. I think she will eventually move back to NYC: it gets under your skin – just like with me.
On Saturdays the Jewish Museum is free so Debbie and I went there in the morning to see the amazing Leonard Cohen exhibition. There is a 40 minute video of him – flipping back and forth during songs to show him seining at different ages. It is beautifully done and well worth a visit.
Then there are 200-plus self-portraits with witticisms so I photographed a good number of them. Another room has an installation with microphones hanging from the roof with ‘Alleluia’ on loop and finally a room with colourful visuals where you can relax on bean-bags as various artists sing his songs. A lovely exhibition.
Returning home, I grabbed Alfie and took the subway back down to 66th, walking one block into the park and ‘Tavern to Go’ – my new favourite coffee place – to sit in the garden with Alfie and enjoy their coffee.
People love to pet Alfie. While 2 young people were making a fuss of him, I asked them what they did. She was a dentist and I took advantage of that fact to discuss an issue I have had for the past 5 weeks. Turns out I have a tooth infection that is managing to drain itself but that I will probably need a root canal when I get home. Oh joy. I thought as much but have been putting off sorting it out. I certainly don’t want to sort it out here: horror stories of how much medical/dental attention costs in NYC. Although I have insurance I would rather not go there. I am fine and thank heavens for bee propolis tincture that is keeping everything under control.
In the summer in NYC, the city put on free open-air cinema with free popcorn and ‘icecream’ (which actually is a sorbet made of sugar, water flavouring and colourant – unhealthy but actually tastes nice!). Debbie and I went off with the dogs to a ballpark in Greenwich Village to watch ‘Christopher Robin’ with Euan McGregor. It was a sweet film and a warm evening.
It is Memorial Day weekend and although there seemed to be a lot of events on in Manhattan the weather was predicted to be 28 degrees and the dogs don’t do so well with too much much concrete around them so we decided to hot-foot it down to the ferry for a second visit to Governor’s Island.
On the island there is a lovely shaded area at ‘Colonel’s Row’ where the naval officers used to live and thankfully they have now installed a water supply there so the dogs could Reston the grass and have copious amounts of water to drink. Up to now when I have visited the island it has been impossible to find water so you have to bring sufficient bottles and even then it never seems to be enough.
There were a lot of people around and a very festive atmosphere. The coffee from Joe coffee was, as usual, delicious eaten with a crunchy peanut butter protein bar and it was lovely to sit in the warmth of the day while being completely in the shade of the massive old trees. Alfie was happy to lie on the grass and sleep.
Alfie then took us on a walk around the Island before we made the 5.00 ferry – because of the dogs we were able to chat to one of the guys at the ferry who let us on first. Just as well because we as we left I noticed at least 200 people left on the quay. The large ferry’s ramp had malfunctioned so they were using a much smaller boat.
On Memorial Day itself, 27 May, I met Caroline and her friends – all from Trinidad, at ‘Community’ for brunch. I had granola and yoghurt while they had variations of eggs and bacon.
I returned home to prepare lunch for Debbie and 2 of her blind friends while Alfie rested because it was too hot for him to go out walking so we waited until 6 p.m.
After supper we went to the gardens at the Cathedral of St John the Divine to listen to the New York Philharmonic who were playing inside.
It was nice to sit with the dogs and to spend time with Michelle, Debbie’s lovely friend who will shortly be going into a closed order for Franciscan nuns in Maine. Afterwards, Genia turned up on her scooter and we went back for tea.

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