Friday, June 27, 2014

Hot Dogs On Dowager Duchess Day

After the Kid Brother and I finished cleaning the balcony Wednesday, we all went to Nathan's for lunch. Judy was a Nathan's virgin and, according to her, the first time was not a disappointment. The Dowager Duchess hasn't had a Nathan's hot dog in more than 20 years.

We had gotten a late start to the day and the Kid Brother, a stickler for his schedules, was fairly fed up with us all by the time we left for Nathan's ... at 1:20 instead of his usual noon. When we finished our hot dogs and fries, the Kid Brother was more than ready for skee ball — and he let me know it. As he himself would say, "Sheez, what a grouch!"

But wait! San Geraldo spotted a photo booth. So, we all crammed in for souvenir photos. Well, all but the Kid Brother, who paced nearby. That probably wasn't a bad idea. The Kid Brother is not one for close physical contact and, well, as you can see by the photo strip, there was no way to avoid it.

Judy then, finally, got her first taste of skee ball. She played a game (maybe two) and then joined the Dowager Duchess and me in the spectator's lounge/peanut gallery.

San Geraldo played 14 games. I've always known San Geraldo had balls but that was ridiculous — 126 balls–worth of ridiculous. He was trying to keep up (and didn't) with The Kid Brother who played 31 games — 279 balls. By the end of game 14, San Geraldo's balls (his SKEE balls) were dragging on the floor.

We checked out some of the rides (from a safe distance) and then San Geraldo drove the Dowager Duchess and the impatient Kid Brother home while Judy and I took a walk on the boardwalk. We could see rain in the distance but made it back without getting drenched.

Thursday afternoon, San Geraldo, Judy, and I bid a fond farewell — until next time — to The Dowager Duchess. We arrived home in Fuengirola this morning around 11. The adventure continues... once the jet lag wears off.

THE DOWAGER DUCHESS ON HER 87th BIRTHDAY.
ENJOYING A NATHAN'S FRENCH FRY.
JUDY GLEEFULLY READY TO BITE INTO HER FIRST NATHAN'S HOT DOG.
AFTER LUNCH, SAN GERALDO OFFERS TO SHARE HIS CONDIMENTS.
(THE KID BROTHER WAITS IMPATIENTLY.)
THE CONEY ISLAND SIDESHOW. WE BELONGED INSIDE.
JUDY STUDIES THE EXPERTS WHILE THE DOWAGER DUCHESS LOOKS ON.
(NOTE: DESPITE THE ODD PHOTO, JUDY DOES NOT HAVE A MOHAWK.)
LIKE A KID IN A CANDY STORE.
BACK ON THE BOARDWALK.
A BARGE AND A TUG.
CONEY ISLAND BEACH LOOKING EAST TO BRIGHTON BEACH.
SITTING IN THE SURF. THEY LOOKED LIKE VINTAGE BATHINGS SUITS,
BUT THEY WERE JUST TANK TOPS AND BASKETBALL SHORTS.
THE COMING STORM... WEST TOWARD STATEN ISLAND AND NEW JERSEY.
NORTH TO THE PARACHUTE JUMP AND BROOKLYN CYCLONES BASEBALL PARK
FROM NEW CONEY ISLAND PIER (EARLIER PIER DESTROYED BY HURRICANE SANDY).
A WEDDING PHOTO SHOOT BELOW THE PIER.
CASTING A SHADOW ON THE WEDDING?
(THAT'S JUDY'S BELOW THE BRIDE'S TRAIN.)
AS JUDY AND I STROLLED, THESE GUYS FLEW OVER OUR HEADS.
WE AT FIRST THOUGHT SOMEONE HAD FALLEN OFF A RIDE.
A CONEY ISLAND SLUSHEE.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY... AGAIN... TO THE INCOMPARABLE DOWAGER DUCHESS.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Clean Sweep With An Old Broom

For the Dowager Duchess's EIGHTY-SEVENTH birthday Wednesday, I volunteered to clean the balcony, pull up the 25-year-old outdoor carpet, and wash the windows while San Geraldo and Judy went out for morning coffee without me. Since The Kid Brother was going to be here with me, I volunteered him, too. However, he didn't hesitate. He threw on some rubber gloves, cleaned windows, and scrubbed railings before I finally told him to stop. He was well-dressed, showered, and shaved. He hadn't come over expecting to do manual labor. So I finished and then pulled up the carpet myself. A filthy job. The underside of the carpet left a mess behind that had to be swept. I used a broad, old push-broom that had been sitting out on the balcony for 49 years. Fourth push and snap! The long wooden handle split apart near the base. I bent low and tried to use it anyway, but I couldn't get much leverage and was worried about splinters.

THE OLD BROOM BITES THE DUST.

The Dowager Duchess poked her head outside to check progress (I had sent her inside earlier because of the dirt and dust). I asked her if she had another broom. She did, and retrieved it from the kitchen. When she handed it to me, she said, "Don't worry if this one breaks. I bought it from the Fuller Brush man when we moved to Van Siclen Avenue," (years before I was born).

THE REPLACEMENT BROOM... A RELIC.

It seems I had broken the new broom. After 63 years, he handle of the Van Siclen Avenue broom has turned to petrified wood. It didn't snap during use and is now back in the broom closet... for another 63 years.

SOME OF THE VIEWS FROM THE NEWLY CLEAN BALCONY.
YOU CAN'T SEE THE NEW YORK SKYLINE FROM THIS SIDE OF THE BUILDING.
BUT THEN YOU CAN'T SEE THE OCEAN FROM THE OTHER SIDE.
DOWN BELOW.
ACROSS THE STREET.

Are You From The Neighborhood?

When San Geraldo and I moved from the East to the West Coast of the United States (Boston to Los Angeles) in 1982, I learned that many transplants from New York City, when coming across other transplants, would ask, "Are you from the neighborhood?" As if the city of 7 million at the time was just one big neighborhood. I had lost most of my New York accent by then and, unless you caught my New York inflections and expressions (and biting wit), I could "pass" for someone not from "the neighborhood," which is what I did.

THE CENTRAL LOBBY OF THE DOWAGER DUCHESS'S BUILDING.
LOOKING TOWARD THE DOWAGER DUCHESS'S "SECTION."
THREE SECTIONS IN EACH OF FIVE 24-STORY BUILDINGS,
FOR A TOTAL OF 2,585 APARTMENTS.

This post is simply more photos of "the neighborhood." This time, more of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, which is in the other direction from the apartment of the Dowager Duchess. The below photos were taken when San Geraldo, Judy, and I walked to and from Starbucks Tuesday morning. Thanks to Judy, I'm seeing the neighborhood with a fresh perspective.

BRIGHTON BEACH AVENUE, UNDER THE EL.
HEADING FOR THE BOARDWALK AND LOOKING BACK AT THE EL. 
HEADING TOWARD THE LIGHT (AND THE BEACH).
LOOKING BACK FROM THE BOARDWALK.
LOTS OF GRAND OLD APARTMENT BUILDINGS (WITH FIRE ESCAPES).
OLD AND NEW ON THE BOARDWALK.
SAN GERALDO AND JUDY LEADING THE WAY BACK TO THE DOWAGER DUCHESS.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Live Vegans And Other Diners

Live Vegan
Driving along Ocean Parkway Monday afternoon to give The Kid Brother a lift home after an afternoon of gambling and good New York deli food, San Geraldo noticed a bumper sticker on the car in front of us.

"Live Vegan," he read aloud (pronouncing "live" to rhyme with "hive").

"What's that supposed to mean?" he muttered, "As opposed to Dead Vegan?"

I SAY, 'LIVE AND LET LIVE.'

I turned in my seat and said, "I think you're meant to read that as 'live' " [rhymes with 'give'], I explained and then said. "Liv Vegan."

English. Spanish. Communication is always an adventure with San Geraldo.

Live Delis and Diners
Sunday afternoon, before Judy arrived, we had a wonderful visit and then lunch at Parkview Diner with some of my cousins who very generously drove a couple of hours from New Jersey and upstate New York just to see us. There were 10 of us (four generations) in all and it was a pleasure. (They even arrived with a box filled with artful cupcakes made by my cousin Evie's 11-year-old granddaughter. The cupcakes were left over from a fundraiser for cancer care. They made a total of 500 and sold 300 at $2 a piece! In honor of my birthday and that of the Dowager Duchess (Wednesday), they put a wooden match in the side of a cupcake for each of us to blow out. (The Dowager Duchess had not one single candle in the entire house.) Sorry. No match-blowing-out photos.

Evie picked up my cousin Maxine and her son, Paul, on her way from New Jersey. Maxine and I keep in sporadic contact, but I hadn't seen Paul in more than 5 years. He starts college in September and is warm, charming, and so gracious. Evie's daughter Ellen, her husband, Allen, and their two daughters, Carly (14), and Brooke (11) drove down from upstate New York. Traffic can be (and was) awful at times along both routes. But everyone arrived all smiles. In addition to the cupcakes, Ellen, Allen, and the girls had a stunning vase of flowers for the Dowager Duchess, fresh mozzarella and pesto, and delicious bread. We indulged, but San Geraldo made them take the left-overs back with them. Much too tempting.

I'VE ALWAYS HAD A SPECIAL PLACE IN MY HEART FOR ELLEN.
HERE SHE IS WITH HER OWN DAUGHTERS, BROOKE AND CARLY.
ALL THREE AS KIND AND EXCEPTIONAL AS THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL.
CARLY DECIDED TO EAT LIGHT.   JUST ONE WAFFLE.
(CLICK THE IMAGES TO SEE HOW MUCH FOOD WE CONSUMED.)
BROOKE SMEARING CREAM CHEESE ON HER BAGEL AS CARLY LOOKS ON.
THE BLUEBERRY MUFFIN WAS [ALMOST] AS BIG AS BROOKE'S HEAD.
CHARITY CUPCAKES.  BROOKE BAKES.  CARLY COOKS. THEY HAVE A GUEST ROOM.
I TOLD THEM I WILL BE MOVING IN SOON.

Our friend Judy arrived from Seattle Sunday night. She'll fly to Spain with us Thursday. We're giving her a brief insider's view of Brooklyn and we're all enjoying it. The Dowager Duchess and Judy have known each other for years and are great friends. And The Kid Brother adores Judy because she's even more of a baseball fanatic than he is. While at the casino Monday, we had lunch (as we always do) at the New York Deli. So good.

Note: Some of the below photos will not be pleasing to Live Vegans.

CREAM SODA AND A POTATO KNISH. 
PASTRAMI ON RYE.
JUDY'S CORNED BEEF REUBEN.

Monday evening, we went to a local diner, El Greco, in Sheepshead Bay, a neighborhood just east of the Dowager Duchess. I don't know how many years El Greco has been on the corner of Emmons Avenue and Sheepshead Bay Road, but it was already well established when we moved to Brooklyn in 1964. It's had its ups and downs over the years (earning the nickname "El Dreco" at times). It's clearly on an upswing now. The service and food were exceptional. We had a waiter named Demetrius who I wish we could take home with us. The portions? New York size. Which means each plate held enough for two.

THE COMPLEMENTARY RELISH TRAY.
SOUR PICKLES AND HALF-SOUR PICKLES! 
MY FRENCH TOAST, WITH A SPANISH OMELETTE ON THE SIDE...
IN A GREEK DINER IN A PREDOMINANTLY RUSSIAN NEIGHBORHOOD...
IN BROOKLYN IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK, USA.


As we were leaving (and Judy and I were drooling over the dessert case) another customer told us El Greco serves the best cheesecake in the City of New York. Demetrius had already told us he makes the best banana split. That just might be dinner one evening before we head back to Spain.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Mermaid Parade 2014: Part Dos

If you missed yesterday's post about the Coney Island Mermaid Parade (said to be "the largest art parade in the nation"), go back, go back!!! Otherwise, here are more photos.

I watched from a good position at the end of the parade route. The marchers turned the corner and headed for the boardwalk, while the "floats" (the buses and other motorized contraptions) finished a block away. Click any image to appreciate the artfulness.



EVEN THE SPECTATORS WERE ENTERTAINING.
(A LOCAL PERFORMER.)

















BUYING A SOUVENIR T-SHIRT... TOO LATE.




HUBBA BUBBA THE HULA BUBBLE BOY?











BRINGING UP THE REAR.