Friday, December 29, 2006

Sunny California Christmas

What day is it? It seems this San Diego sunshine has turned my brain to mush and I just can’t remember what day it is. Or have I been hanging out with my drunk, mourning friend too much and some of his eccentricities have worn off on me? Who knows. Maybe the mellow life style hasn’t inspired me to blog. Everyone is so happy and laid back here that there’s nothing really to write about. Well here it is Friday (?) I think and while my brother and his brood sleep I might as well get in a few lines before they wake up and throw off my concentration. My mother just woke up and she’ll be reading the paper next to me, commenting on everything I just read which throws me off so let me clack away.
Christmas came and went. I was happy to be around our big, antique dining room table with family and friends, eating off the good china with the good silver. That helps to give the meal special meaning, to think we are eating on a table that goes back two generations and how many generations are around the table. That has more meaning for me than all the gifts under the trees.
I’ve become quite practical (some call it Scroogy) about gifts. Seems like the whole gift giving thing has gotten way out of control and in my opinion, we Americans don’t really need anything. Isn’t it enough to be happy with what you have and who’s around you? Why do you have to mess it up with a bunch of useless crap? Why do children need so many gifts?? They’re over stimulated from all the toys that bog down the family room on 25 December and in the grand scheme of things a kid would be happy with one gift. You know Joan Crawford was right–she gave darling Christina and siblings a choice of one gift and the rest went to other children in need. Let’s have more Crawford Christmases!
My father was the king of useless, tacky gifts. My brothers and I always feared what lurked in those packages he haded to us on Christmas day, all of us thinking "just give me the card with the money". I’ll never forget the year he announced excitedly that he did all his Xmas shopping at a big new store called Shell World. I never knew that shells could take on such life! Well, my older brother Mike has inherited the tacky, yet meaningful, gift giving gene. When he asked me this year what I wanted for Xmas, I told him not to get me anything. Looking at the box of See’s nuts and chews in his arms, I told him if he really wanted to give me a gift, just give me the See’s candy (I never say no to a box of nuts and chews). Cool, a gentlemen’s agreement, right? No. On Xmas morning as we sat opening gifts, I noticed the absence of a familiar rectangular box under the tree. Instead of the See’s, Mike got me some cheesy frames with cat stuff on it, a Chinese cat figurine and a cat toy. HELLO!!!! Did anyone hear my plea/request the day before??? I have three cats and a basement full of crap, why do I need more? (Although the cat toy is going to good use). He means well I know but me the practical person was in a lather. My mom, on the other hand, got it down right–she got me the few things I really need: swim flippers (she also threw in goggles and a bathing cap). I really shouldn’t complain should I? But when faced with lugging things across the country, you don’t want a bunch of crap in your suitcase. Really a nice bottle of wine, good food and conversation, as I’ve said before, is all I need at the holidays to be happy.
Christmas morning in San Diego is always sunny and beautiful. I always hated getting sweaters for Xmas because you never can use them it’s so damned hot. Before driving up to Manhattan Beach to my oldest brother’s house, we popped out to say HI to my dear departed dad in the cemetery at the end of the point. This has become a new family tradition as has me wearing my dad’s class ring from King’s Point Marine Academy. The ring is something he wore all the time and in his last days in the hospital I tried to get him to take it off for fear the nurses would steal it. He refused as expected for the stubborn patient that he was. Anyhow, after he died, I took the ring, my other less outlandish brothers not having any interest in wearing it. I pull it out on family occasions such as Christmas. Before coming here I was frantically looking for it in my basement, not remembering where I put it. I finally found it in a box by my bed that I didn’t put away in storage. Thank God I have trustworthy sublettors!
People in San Diego crack me up. They complain about how cold it is, running around in fleeces, UG boots and scarfs, cranking up the heat, etc. "Honey, you don’t know what cold is" I tell them. Yes the ocean breeze does add a wet chill to the air but I’m sorry when it’s in the 60's and 70's, you just have no reason to go "BRRRRRRRRR!" Call me old fashioned. Everyone here is so nice and friendly, quite the opposite from the cold stone looks I get in Astana. I’ve refrained form divulging lots of information about my work in Kazakhstan just because the majority of the population here can’t wrap their brains around things past the county line so it just leads to frustration on my part. I mean really, how difficult is it to look at a map and get a sense of the world. How hard is it to figure out that Kazakhstan is NOT in the Middle East, is not unstable and that Borat is not from there. Hey Nazarbayev, I’m becoming quite the spokesman for that great and glorious country of yours–maybe we can take this on the road. In conclusion, when discussing Kazakhstan and/or the rest of the world, Americans are stupid!
Christmas in Manhattan Beach was happy as Christmas with kids running around should be. It was hot that day and I was wondering why I didn’t bring my suit for a quick dip in the ocean. The kids rattled with their new PlayStation and other gizmos, and we shoved more food in our mouths. After all that gluttony (well part 1 at least) we took a stroll down to the beach as per tradition. So nice to be out of snow for awhile. Unusually warm for December 25th and I put all my fears of global warming aside and just enjoyed it. Post walk we had some roast beast for dinner, to cap off the ultimate day of gluttony in the American holiday calendar.
Sped out of Straightsville later on to hang out with my dear gay friends Danny and Ruben in Santa Monica. Oh so nice to get back in the fold of gay normalcy! Just an aside, and I don’t mean to offend, but after awhile, being around straight people with children gets a bit tedious. No witty conversation, no ribald, off coloured remarks, no innuendos. I always feel I need to keep a tight lip around the relatives and can’t let loose. So going back into the homo fold is always a sense of relief. Anyway, D and R are fabulous friends I’ve know for almost 20 yrs, as long as they have been together. They are always great to hang with and being movie buffs, I always catch up on my films with them. They were an intermediary point on my big road trip up to see my brother in Mammoth in the Sierra Nevada mountains. In the short time I was there, we managed to see "Dreamgirls" (run don’t walk to see this) and have some good meals.
The trip to Mammoth never happened due to a big snowstorm and 100+ mph winds. As much as I wanted to go be with my brother and his wife as they gave birth to their second kid (a boy–Mazel Tov), I didn’t want to risk my life and limb to get up there (well I did because I love my baby brother) but when he said two semis blew off the road and his friend’s trailer blew off the side of a hill, I nixed the idea of driving in my little rental car up the I5 into treacherous weather. So back to San Diego to hang with the alcoholic I went.
Call me Mother Theresa, I went to tend to the needs of my mourning friend Christopher who grieves the loss of his partner Brian less than a month ago. As angry as I am about his alcoholism and as much as I’ve talked to him about it, all it does is gets him riled up. So, thanks to my wise mother, I took a different approach, I just didn’t bring it up and focused on the day-to-day stuff. His house is a filthy, stinky mess, he has no money since he’s not working and like hell I’m hanging around there while the sun shines. So I took him out to lunch, to the movies (Black Xmas–a slasher film he wanted to see) and provided some support while in town. I so wanted to throw out his 20 yr old couches which stink to high heaven and dismantle his entertainment center but he would have none of it. You can’t rush people I guess. So let him drink his vodka, take his pills and mourn the loss of his boyfriend in his own way.
Think I’m ready now for a change of scene and flying back to NYC for 10 days is just what I need. Blogging in the fresh air, under the sun is nice but I need the verve of NYC to keep me rolling. Plus, there’s not a lot of places here with WiFi. Besides the corner of my mom’s couch(thanks to "tadhome") not many places in SD where I can chill in a cafĂ© and blog, check email, etc. And fuck all these people who put locks on their wireless arrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggg!!! So get me out of this place–back to my home with my cats and friends, my other family. Hello Jet Blue, let’s go!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

It's a Wonderful Life-Part 1

I love Sundays because I do absolutely nothing or basically whatever I want. No ESL, no students, no TOEFL–utter peace to roam the city, do art, cook, etc. As tradition has it here in Astana, every Saturday night I get together with my friends Walton, Asel (his wife), Chris and Irina (his wife). We found each other through our blogs back in October and have been meeting practically every Saturday night since (I think we’ve missed two since 28 October). Either we go out to a restaurant or to each other’s house to eat, drink and be merry. Now Saturday night without Walton, Asel, Chris and Irina isn’t a Saturday night.

Last night we went out to "Samovar" the Russian restaurant last noted in my blog as the place where my colleague asked loudly what "YEB TVOYU MAT" means. We went to the other "Samovar" on the Left Bank by the enormous KazMunaiGas building–a monolithic structure that looks like something out of the last Star Wars film. Chris is off to England next weekend for the holidays and counting the hours, yesterday it was 206, don’t know what it is today, so this was our Christmas dinner together before we part ways for the holiday. After a whole afternoon of teaching, I was starving and ready to gorge myself with delicious Russian food and have a few shots of vodka. Herring, mushrooms, salo (pork fat–don’t tell Dr. Vail), salads, delicious entrees, chocolate bliny, fresh delicious black bread. Put that together with a few bottles of vodka and you got a pretty good party. The shot glasses clinked like bells pealing "Merry Christmas" and toast after toast we realized how special our Saturday nights have become.
A few weeks, Walton and Asel hosted the Thanksgiving party with chickens and manty (homemade meat dumplings), Chris and Irina have hosted a party so when we all get back, it is my turn to have everyone over. I may have to borrow furniture from the neighbors but I’ll put on a good dinner party.

After our feast at "Samovar" we took a stroll along the grand promenade toward Baiterek, the giant tower with the gold ball on top, the Eiffel Tower of Astana. After 2 bottles of vodka, it was warm enough to walk around the freezing streets of the new part of town. Irina was looking so fucking fabulous in her new red fur hat. I love it and want one just like it. A big puff of red fur like an enormous pom pom, it makes quite a statement here in Astana. She let me try it on last night but it just made me look like Martha Raye in "The Bugaloos".
Irina is fabulous. So much fun and a good sense of humor to boot. So refreshing for regimented, uber-serious Astana. We were feeling good enough to flop around in the snow making snow angels. I don’t know how they turned out but we had fun waving our arms and legs back and forth to leave our mark in the snow.

Afterwards we made a trek to Walton and Asel’s for some tea to warm up before we headed home around 2:30 am.
Walton and Asel got a fake tree (I guess fresh trees are banned because people have been cutting down trees in parks and selling them) which was sparsely decorated. I may make them some ornaments today in my free time. Asel recently went to South Korea for a business trip and brought back "It’s a Wonderful Life". AAAHAHAHAHAH!!! I want to watch it so bad. That’s like a must for me during the holidays. They haven’t watched it yet so I resisted from asking to borrow it. Anyway, I’ll be doing my "It’s a Wonderful Life" bit in Brooklyn when I meet up with some NY friends and neighbors on the 21st at BBQ in the hood, so I can wait to see it later. Walton also had downloaded some Xmas tunes from Itunes so we had some apropos music as we sipped our tea late into the night. Aaaah the holidays, simple celebrations like these make them so special.
I love being here at Christmas time for many reasons. The cold and snow of course but mainly because you have the city decked out for the holidays and no crazy commercialism that wears me out in America. People aren’t frantically running around buying useless crap for each other or waiting in line for the latest gizmo for their spoiled brat kids. Closer to the 31st, things will get crazy but mostly at the food and liquor stores as people stock up for New Year’s Eve dinners. Gift giving is not a huge overwrought process here and it is so refreshing. For me, all I want for Christmas is to snuggle with my cats, see Pete and Jackie and my other NYC friends and have a nice meal with my family in California. I don’t need anything else (oh well maybe some flippers for swimming and another pair of long underwear).
OK, I promised Irina, my fabulous Astana friend, I would post this before 12:00 because she’s going to read it at 12:01 so I better move my ass. Dial up takes a little time. Ho Ho Ho!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

In memorium

Got word yesterday that my close friend Chris’ boyfriend Brian has died in San Diego. 35 yrs old, drank himself to death. Died on a couch that used to be mine 20 years ago. Sad really that a person with so much potential and talent can sink so low. Alcoholism like any addiction is a nasty thing and no matter how much you try to help someone, they really can only help themselves recover. I don’t know what will become of my dear friend from high school now that he’s alone to drink and sit around watching television all day. Hard to watch someone you love sink so low, especially when they are so stubborn and defensive when you bring up AA, 12-step programs and getting help. I’m sure part of my Christmas vacation in San Diego will be spent hanging out with Chris. Maybe I’ll get him out of the house for some healthy activities. If I can at least convince him to throw away the couch and maybe steam clean the carpets, I’ve made some progress. So Brian, wherever you are, may you be at peace.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Horse Meat and Coelocanth

OK, that last entry was the vodka tinged version of a really good time with a bunch of old folks who know how to party. Would you like the 9am tea induced version?

My friend/colleague Kulyash, a 60 yr old English teacher, calls me up on Sunday afternoon and spontaneously invites me to the 70th birthday party of her friend Menger. Theparty is just getting underway at the Safi restaurant, I’m at Adella’s (one of my students) having a lesson and dressed like a Russian muzhik (hey it’s Sunday, my day off I can look like a slob if I want). So I hop in a cab, go home and change into something more presentable and off I go to the party. My cab driver is one of those classic old men who you can have a great conversation with while slowly driving to your destination on the icy streets of Astana. He’s surprised I’m not married (as they all are) and says "Pora" (It’s about time). But then he contradicts himself by saying ah you’re an Americanets, they’re probably banging your door down. You’re probably shagging a new girl every night, da?", he says with a hearty laugh. If he only knew, ah I won’t go there.

The party was in full swing as I got there. Changed out of my UG boots into my black dress shoes and immediately nearly broke my neck on the slick tiled floor. It’s worse than the icy steps outside. They love their granite, marble and ceramic tile here but poor planning was done about what happens to it in winter. Icy, slick and dangerous as all hell. Jacoby and Myers where are you when I need a lawyer?

I hobbled gently upstairs to a huge hall full of family and friends celebrating Menger’s 70th bash. They came from all over; Almaty, Karagandy, Pavlodar, Russia and now me from NYC. Stares and hushed whispers escorted me across the room as Kulyash waved me over. Soon found myself making up for lost time in the vodka and food department. Our table, like everyone else’s was full of delicious salads, platters of fish, cut meats, bread, vegetables. In the middle was a huge round platter of Beshparmak, the Kazakh traditional dish of horse meat, potatoes and boiled ribbons of dough. I have yet to try this delicacy that everyone keeps telling me about and yet again missed my chance to sample the fare. The platter was pretty much empty but Kulyash found me a piece of horse meat to chew on after my first shot of vodka.

The party was like a show really. Highly organized with an emcee who kept things moving. A little too regimented for me but she did produce a great evening. There were speeches, table by table, dance contests, prizes, cute little girls with giant bows in their hair singing, dancing girls, musical performances. Hell I want my 70th to be like this! As the token foreigner in the room, I was forced up by Menger’s sister to give a speech. Of course I rose to the occasion and gave a rousing speech in Russian which got a round of applause. I’m used to these impromptu speeches, piece of cake. We danced the night away from waltzes to Boney M on that slick dance floor. Amazingly, none of the ladies in 4+" heels or the men in various stages of drunkeness fell or seriously hurt themselves. Actually it was a great floor to waltz on. We swirled and glided, Kulyash and I, across that floor like nobody’s business. When it came to the dance contests, I was up dancing away. I won a Kazakh hat in the gypsy contest. After that I was like "svoi" not just a foreigner but one of the crowd. Kazakhs treat foreigners in a very formal and sometimes condescending way. They seem to have this weird stereotype of us and don’t know how to treat us like regular human beings but rather like things from another planet. When you show them you’re just a regular person like them and embrace their ways, they become more real and seem to be able to talk with you like another person.

The tables were always filled with food. All the salads were devoured but I blink and suddenly there was something else to take the place of the empty bowl. In short it was an orgy of food. As we danced, the wait staff took everything off the table and gave us our hot entree; fish with mashed potatoes. Pretty decent fish for an almost landlocked country. The toasts went on and on and on and on. In Kazakh and in Russian, effusive 15 minute outpourings of emotions and respect. Times that by 200 people and Oy Vey will they ever shut up!!!! I jest a little. Hell, if/when I get to that age, may I have that many people be giving me such lavish toasts.

The piece de resistance, after gorging ourselves on appetizers, a hot entree, cakes and sweets was a giant baked fish presented on a platter surrounded by lettuce leaves and lemon slices. They told me what it was in Russian but let me tell you what it was: Ceolocanth! Yes this prehistoric fish reported in the rivers of Africa has made it to Central Asia somehow and there were about 20 of them being passed out at the tables around the hall. The ladies at my table grabbed the serving utensils and started passing out baked Ceolocanth to everyone. I was really full but still I got a huge piece as guest of honor from NYC. I took a few bites to be polite, a little too fishy for me and imagined how much Murka would love this. The waitress gave me a doggy bag and I quietly slid the prehistoric slab into it. Hey, a least it wasn’t the feared goat head with the eyeball!

So after hours of food, drink and dance, it was time to go home. Kulyash piled our winter clothes back on and headed out into the -30 degree Celcius night to flag down a cab. Poor Kulyash got robbed last week and all they took were her winter coats, so she was running around in her sister’s thick wool coat that night. No glamorous fur coat for her–some men broke into her apartment and stole the stoles so to speak. I’m sure my PETA friendly readers are clapping right now but let me tell you, when it gets this cold, you’ll be wanting a fur coat too! It keeps all the cold out. With that said, let me pile on my clothes and attend to my morning student waiting for me at the office.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The meaning of life explained on the dance floor

"Rah, rah Rasputin, lover of the Russian queen..." the Boney M classic dance hit blares out of the speakers. Within moments the dance floor is full of people dancing away. The men are dressed in various shades of gray and black suits, a flash of colour emanating from their garish striped ties. The plump ladies are clad in all sorts of fashion; a red sequined bodice with flowy chiffon skirts to the floor, clunky white heels poking out at the bottom, a tight fitting jacket and short skirt holding a 60 yr old body in place, a negligee like jacket revealing a burgundy low cut dress, hefty women teeter on 4"heels as the crowd boogies to the music. The disco ball sends light all over the room, quick flashes off the sequins of dresses catch in my eyes as I swirl around the dance floor with complete strangers.
Happiness radiates from everyone’s eyes. A 70th birthday celebration. I don’t know anyone here except a colleague who invited me. I’ve done the Lambada and lezinka, and gypsyed with the myriad of hefty Kazakh women done up like Christmas trees here at the party.
How did I get here? Once again I’m dancing with a bunch of middle aged women; they’re writhing and wiggling their chubby little bodies at me, I shimmy my shoulders in response. A sense of "woe is me"comes over me suddenly. All alone on the dance floor with the "tyotki" once again. Where is my man to dance with? Where’s my partner for life? The knight in shining armor? The happy ending? It ain’t gonna happen is it? This is the end of the fairy tale for me.
For one of the "Rasputin"choruses I lament my lonely state but before I sink lower into this feeling I look around and realize I’m not alone. I’m surrounded by happy people and having a ball. A smile comes across my face as the song kicks into high gear. A little lady in a black sweater dress with a sequin star burst shooting out from her left breast dances over to me. Her hair is piled high on her head and gently wiggles back and forth as she shakes her body. Her eyes are wild with excitement as we begin to dance with each other. Her red lips spread into a smile, revealing a bright row of gold teeth. I smile back at her as we move to the beat. The lament passes. Knight or no knight, I’m happy. Until he shows up, I’ll dance with the "tyotki".

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My dinner with Paulie Walnuts

Who is Paulie Walnuts? Get the fuck outta here?!?! You don't know one of the best characters on "The Sopranos"?? You know the guy with the white wisps in his hair. Well here he is (on the right). He actually busted my balls a bit by telling me to get the fuck outta here when I asked for a photo, then pulled me back in to get this shot. Nice guy, so were the other "Sopranos" cast members who were there. Like Big Bobby here posing with some colleagues of mine, and the guy who plays the son who is kinda cute in real life. I didn't get his picture but yakked with him a bit. I think maybe he was a little miffed we didn't fawn over him as we did these two guys, but whaddyagonnado?

So why did I get the pleasure of dining with these two guys? No I was not hanging out at the "Badda Bing", but at a big to do dinner by Immigrant Social Services (ISS) who were honoring some Italian Americans who had made a difference in the lives of immigrants here in NYC. The principal of my school was being honored and so was Big Bobby (Steve Schaparell?). So the staff of my school dropped $150 for a plate of crap food (but good appetizers and open bar) to honor our boss and a few others. Post honoring, we ran up to schmooze with the Soprano boys in our drunken states. I was seen most of the evening looking dapper and holding a Manhattan in my hand--very Truman Capote but just less slurry and a little taller. I must say I have learned to drink bourbon quite well. Maker's Mark only of course. Oh and did I tell you that I'm an official ambassador for MM? Yes I am--what does it mean? That I get to go to wild parties where all they serve is MM Bourbon. Not bad huh? But I digress...

The day after all this Soprano-ing, I played host to Ghufran, one of my Afghan students now living in Buffalo, NY. He flew down to extend his German visa so he can stay until August (as opposed to June) to attend a youth conference in DC. Anyhow, he got to spend three days in my whirlwind of a life running around from place to place, on the go all the time. It was a great experience for him and I loved having him here. Besides prolonging his visa (a relatively painless experience) we saw Sara Jones' "Bridge and Tunnel" the fabulous one woman show on Broadway, marked for a special Tony. It was a remarkable show about different people from different places all making a life together in Queens. I'm Ghufram got to see it. Of all the things on Bway he could relate to, this was the best thing. He loved the show.
Ghufran loves to make presentations about Afghanistan to people so I let him go to town at my school with the 4th graders while I painted a mural. I'm actually doing a neat one on a door of the AP's office. Pictures to follow later. We dined in Chinatown with friends. He just charmed everyone everywhere we went. It's great for my friends to meet my students for they get to know someone from another country and they also get to see a part of what I do in the summer instead of just hearing about it or seeing photos. My favorite part of the 3 days was doing a street fair on 6th Ave. in Manhattan. He helped set up and sell shirts all day with me before I took him to the airport to go home. A shame he couldn't stay longer, I was really enjoying his company. But it's OK, because now I'm up in Buffalo with Ghufran, housesitting while his host parents are away in France for a week. Hey I figured why not fly up for a week, get some work done in peace and quiet, see Niagara Falls, sell some shirts and maybe head over to Toronto. More fun to be had here. Read on tomorrow...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Tree Falls In Brooklyn

CRASH, BOOM, BANG!! I thought the front of the house was falling off! Luckily I paused to extend my goodbye to Pete, my neighbor, before opening his front door and stepping out on the stoop. Had it been a few seconds late, I would have been whacked on the head by a giant branch from the tree outside my house. Yes, the sagging, 12ft. branch just decided to fall off on a sunny Monday afternoon on a quiet block in Brooklyn. I would've added the word "shady" to that description but the front of my house is shady no more. My big tree decided it was time to lose a limb and have the sun shine more on my house. The biggest bummer of all this is I don't have the branches in front of my bedroom window anymore. I never bought curtains for my bedroom because I loved the feeling of sleeping in a tree, watching the birds and squirrels from my bed, seeing the change from full green, to brown orange to bare covered with snow and back again. Oh well, whaddyagonnado?

Fortunately, as you can see from the pics, no cars were damaged and no one was walking on the sidewalk at the time. It could have been a lot worse. The only major damage was one of Pete's plastic window boxes go trashed. But we did have a problem-it was blocking the sidewalk and needed to be removed pronto. Don't you just love a city with 311? Within moments, Pete, myself and a few other neighbors were on the phone to get the Parks Services to come chop the giant branch up. Of course bureacracy as it is, they'd put in a report and they'd be out there within 30days. Yes that's all I need is a huge branch blocking my doorway for a month. We called the Fire Department instead and a crew of hotties were over before you could say "TIMBER!".

Is it just me or is there a certain sexual electricity whenever the NYFD shows up? If there's a house burning down, I'm looking at the guys in action rather the flames shooting through a roof. Is it the baggy pants and navy blue shirts? What is it about them that drives me crazy (and some of you blogophiles too). Well, they roared up, sirens blaring and got right to work. They assessed the situation and then whipped it out, Oh their chainsaw I mean. Licketysplit, they chopped up that branch into and threw the pieces of the once bedroom curtain at the curb, taking up 3-4 parking spaces. Afterwards, they assessed the situation of another precariously dangling branch which could come down at any moment. They decided to bring it down. BUT there was a slight problem. My neighbor Joe's car was in the way. We called his wife who came quickly from work nearby and moved the black behemoth, clearing the way for a saw and pull job. I'm sure hadn't they done that, the branch would've fallen off in the middle of the night, ruining the car and blocking the street.

They wrapped rope around the branch in question and with a gentle buzzing of the branch, cut and pulled, cut and pulled until the thing came crashing down. Let me tell you, how hot was that to see NYFD in action. Buzz, pull, buzz, pull, buzz, pull CRAAACK, BOOM!! That's how the mighty second branch came down. These guys didn't mess around. Actually they were playing hard to get, all business and no response to my whitty banter and jokes. I had already pegged a few of them as potential husbands but the glare of their wedding rings shone in my eye like the sun into my bedroom now. With some more buzzing, the second branch was thrown on top of the first one and our local fire boys were on their way. Pete and I circled the branch heap to check out the wood for possible usage as furniture or art projects of some kind. I have enough wood in my yard and Pete couldn't figure out anything immediatley so we left it there for now.

A Parks Services guy, another hottie, came by a few days later to assess the tree and told me it may have to come down. I love my tree and the shade it gives us, but I don't want my house damaged when the things falls over in a high wind. Fortunately he said they'd put another one in that will grow staighter so we won't have a problem with top-heavy branches like on this tree. We'll see. It may be 30 days before all this comes down so for now I'm going to enjoy of what's left of my tree that grows in Brooklyn.