Thursday, May 31, 2007

meet the tomatoes

to say that i have a green thumb would be a lie. it would be like saying that all of those years of ballet molded me into a graceful woman who doesn't run into the coffee table a minimum of four times a day. question: how many times can you bruise your shins in the same spot before it becomes permanent? because i think i'm reaching my quota.
can i blame my mother for this whole lack of a green thumb thing? why not, we can blame her for so many other things. why didn't she share her green thumb with me? why didn't we have those mother daughter moments where we both kneel down in the lovely earth and plant things. in fact, when, exactly, did she do the planting? in between laying in bed banging on the wall with a hairbrush to summon me downstairs to hand her her purse, and watching 'all my children'? whenever it was, i appeared not to ever be around for that. what i was around for was the daily watering of all of the flowers on those summer mornings, and for the occasional weeding of the entire front yard. this, by the way, was not a bonding experience, but a chore that i completed solo. did i complain? my memory shows me complaining in my head but being a very obedient little girl. i think my sisters memories show a different little pest. i think they remember wrong. anyhoo. the weeds. the watering. none of it prepared me for growing tomatoes. and let's face it, i live in new york city. this black thumb thing hasn't affected me too terribly much, aside from the fact that i can't even keep an aloe or a jade plant alive. yes, i know that even an idiot could keep those plants alive. i can't.
enter emilia piechota. don't ask me how to pronounce her name. she works with me, and every time i have to call her name in a list of 20 others whose last names i'm pronouncing correctly, i hope she thinks i'm only calling her by her first name because we're such buddies. why don't i just ask her how to pronounce it, you wonder? i think i have, and trying to replicate her polish accent proves impossible for me. which is surprising since in greenpoint, i live among 20,000 polish people. no exaggeration. maybe i could ask her husband, pawel (pah-vel) szczesniak....uh, nevermind.
so one day emilia starts chatting with me about her tomatoes. and her cucumbers and bell peppers and all of the lovely things she's growing in her BACKYARD. she tells me i could totally grow tomatoes on my fire escape. clearly she's mistaken me for one of her kind, whose gaze doesn't cause a plant to shrivel up and die. so i just nod and go along with the fantasy. but the next day she brings me 2 tomato plants in a plastic bag. one she has purchased for me, and one she has sacrificed from her own garden. i feel weepy with her kindness. i imagine she is my mother and we are elbow deep in the verdant soil of my fire escape. except it's hard to imagine her as a mother for long because a) she's younger than i and b) she's one of those stone cold foxy polish chicks who populate my neighborhood and give me serious ego checks when i'm just buying toilet paper at the corner store. because they are all skinny, tall, with perfect yet random burgundy and blonde highlights in their stylishly cut hair and perfect smoky eye make up that you only see in the how-to section of magazines.
so she tells me that all i have to do it plants these little guys, bury an egg below their roots, and water them every day. and voila, tomatoes. skeptically and nervously i visit the polish nursery and come away with a couple of pots, soil and eggs (well, for those i had to pay a visit to the foxy chick at the corner store). i decide to name my tomato plants pawel and emilia, and hope they don't die. but it turns out that emila is actually FOUR tomato plants. wow. i have to visit the nursery again because they swear i can't just plant them next to each other. more pots, more soil. but i do plant one emilia in the big pot with pawel. it seems romantic and appropriate. and i water them every day. and lo and behold, they grown like happy little weeds--seemingly oblivious to the toxic nature of their master--and one day a tiny little baby tomato (!) appears on emilia #2!!!! i scream with delight. possibly there are tears in my eyes. the coming days bring more little baby tomatoes and they grow and grow and i feel like a mother. suddenly i get the whole baby obsession. the tomatoes are my babies and i want to share their growth with the world. this is the first time i get an inkling that i'd like a blog. just so i can blog every day about my tomatoes. except i'm not a great mother because i never take pictures of them. i'm busy keeping them alive. finally the fruit grows big and resembles real live tomatoes, turns red. it seems wrong to eat them! but with emre's anxious help, i overcome that obstacle and soon we are eating delicious, if not somewhat deformed tomatoes (hey, i'm an organic farmer here, whattaya want?!) every day. my friend ola (ooh-lah) gets a kick out of saying to emilia at work, "emilia, when i was at kitty's house the other day, i ate one of you and one of pawel!"
when i'm picking the tomatoes, i discover a familiar smell. it's the smell of the yellow stuff the stems leave behind on my hands. it holds a memory.....aha!! i have grown tomatoes before! i remember my great-grandpa sug (shoog) and how every summer he'd plant a vegetable garden and i'd spend mornings tending it with him. then we'd sit on the front porch for hours drinking country time lemonade out of cans. his hands always smelled like that: life tomato earth...oh, i can't describe it. i'll get back to you on how it smells. every time i pick a tomato off my fire escape i think of him. so above you see the 2nd year babies on their planting day--may 19th, 2007. i vowed to photograph them exactly once a week to chart their progress here, because i know that would be really interesting to my three readers (hi amy, mieke and kim!). but alas, already i've strayed. below you see the babies a week and a half old. my how they grow!! this year i planted yellow heirloom tomatoes, red cherry tomatoes and yellow bell peppers!! big experiment on the bell peppers. and how's this for emilia's wisdom? the peppers are the ones in the long pot on the right. there are three plants. i ran out of eggs and had to plant the center one without an egg. notice it is less than half the size of the other two.....

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

i heart brooklyn

yesterday, while taking a break from hard manual labor (explanations in a later, exhustingly long post with photo documentation, i promise/threaten!), emre and i took a stroll down to 'el burrito loco.' while it may not be california, it's the best we got, and since it's on williamsburg's south side--about 22 blocks from our house--we don't venture there on a very regular basis. but it was a beautiful holiday and the streets were teeming with happy hipsters relaxing. we picked up our burritos and took them to mc garren park, where we laid out our alien grass blanket and picniked, watching kids fly kites and noticing the usual stiking resemblance between owners and their dogs. while we stood in line slightly swaying to the salsa beat (okay, i was the one swaying. emre, of course, was not), watching actual mexican people assemble our burritos (let's facce it, if we were in manhattan, we'd be listening to def leppard) and taking in the mellow scene, i felt a wave of love crash over me. i recalled the previous night's encounter with a stupid girl we all agreed must be new to new york, ranting, "i work a hard, fast paced life, and on the weekends, i want immediate options options options NOW. that's what manhattan gives me." okay girl, don't look now, but it's the weekend, and you and 25% of manhattan has taken the L train (or a cab for the not so easy to commit to the borough) out to brooklyn because it's cooler. so there. i love brooklyn. i love my neighborhood. and i love using these sticks attached to my hips to walk all over it enjoying life and love. thankfully, emre is a pro-walking brooklyn lover too. all smiles.

p.s. i do love manhattan too, but brooklyn is home. don't think i don't understand that its proximity to manhattan is one thing that makes it great.

p.p.s. very often, the way i write post is just to choose a photograph to share and see what words it brings. the above, was not the originally intended photo for this post. it was actually this:

and the title was 'i heart new york'. but i found my writing taking me to the 'i heart brooklyn' statement, then it just didn't seem right to use a photo that i shot in union square, manhattan, though it suited the mood better. so there it is. i heart manhattan, too. (okay, eddie and maria, happy?)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

what's your name? who's your daddy? boom chick ah...

when i left new york it was rainy and cold. even though i was only in california for four days, i had a feeling that i would return to summer. and indeed, summer has arrived. hot hot hot today and a beautiful balmy night tonight (82 degrees at this 1:31am), which made for a lovely walk home in a tank top but for difficult sleeping without having visions of installing the a/c and then fighting over how often to use it. because except for those five minutes when i re-enter the house and i think i've been expedited to overheated hell, i generally am not a friend of air conditioning.
yes, the weather. expect to hear more of it. because in new york it's not polite conversation, it's very relevant bitching!

Monday, May 21, 2007

innundated with cuddles

worked till 3 am at gotham hall, went home to pack and shower, then airport at 5am. all worth it for this moment--five minutes in the door at abbie's and sleeping rory charlotte sighing in my arms. kyle, at fourteen, shows, you're never too old to cuddle with auntie!

Friday, May 18, 2007

piss and vinegar

i hate when people's blog's get stale! i have a few blogs bookmarked, and i tend to check them every time i go online--sometimes twice a day--as though they will be magically updated every time i open them. this is one of the reasons i feel hesitant about blogging. the commitment, it's just too much! and now that i've worked 75 hours this week, i just haven't found the time to finish the draft of something i wanted to post. so the idea is just to give some photos. here is a shot from madison square park. again, from my reflections, shadows and textures class. as i mentioned earlier, the class fell short of addressing these subjects. but that didn't stop me from stubbornly shooting into every square inch of standing water i could find, ad naseum. here we see some kids enjoying the first warm day of spring.

and now, as i sit trying to type, sweet emre has acosted my eye with a sliced clove of garlic he insists will stunt the growth of the stye that is stubornly, painfully trying to attack my whole being. ah, turkish folk remedies....did you know that if your feet get too cold you'll be plagued by gas? me neither.

and on another totally random and mundane note. i have to say that i hate ebay. i'm trying to buy something for my niece's birthday and all of this stupid bidding is really causing me trouble! already out of pure gunslinging pride, i've bid twice what i can afford, and if 'navybluebeauty' doesn't cool it, i'm gonna pull out my pistol and take the damn thing from her! never again, i tell ya. till i need another obscure thing. like a countertop cookbook shelf like kim has....

Friday, May 11, 2007

mad for manhattan bridge

a couple of weeks ago, my 'shadows, textures, reflections' class took a field trip to the brooklyn bridge. i was originally super excited about this class because of the snazzy title, however, it turns out the name should have been 'nyc shooting' class. which would still be fine. just don't tempt me with cool names and then never mention those words once. not to mention the fact that because of the class time, we were generally shooting the two hours surrounding high noon, which any photographer knows is a no-no!
but enough of my belly aching. some of my favorite images from the brooklyn bridge trip were actually the manhattan bride. i don't know why. i was reaching for the true title of the class, and found some lovely puddles reflecting the bridge (above). also, who could resist the urge to lie down in the middle of a cobblestone street in brooklyn to take this shot. answer: my other ten classmates who did not get up with a grey belly! and don't worry, the cars drive a lot slower on cobblestone. after they've dumped the bodies in the river....

click on the image to the left to sneak a peak of the empire state building.

and did you , my myriad of readers, know that in addition to clicking on photos for a larger view, you can make comments? don't be lazy, just sign in!

i'll do the ever iconic brooklyn bridge another day.

Monday, May 7, 2007


i really want to tell you how this chair partially inspired this blog, but alas, it's 4:20am, and i'm on my way to work at the morgan library. i will be there, on my feet, for 16 hours. and then, because one must make time for tobey maguire, at 10:15, emre, emir, haley and i will see spiderman three. emre thinks i'll fall asleep. and to this, i quote my friend, henry. "sleep? pshaw!"

Thursday, May 3, 2007

bjork, wow

tried to choose a bjork-appropriate photo from my collection today.
how about 'army of me' for this one? not to say that i am household cleaners.
but these guys always make me think of an approaching army....of household cleaners.

bjork at radio city music hall last night. i can't believe i've lived in new york for over ten years and had yet to see a show there. i've catered events, walked across the big stage wielding bottles of water, yet never so much as seen a rockette dressed as sexy santa kick her leg at radio city music hall. this was so much better.
in principal, last night was a very special date for emre and i, as bjork is one of the few musicians that i can count on my one left hand that emre and i both genuinely enjoy listening to. along with the yeah yeah yeahs and there anyone else?
and naturally, it was a costume night last night. i mean a night where i once more summon my dormant creative ability to put together a fabulous outfit. and who better to honor in this way, than the queen of badass style. i love bjork. i love every funky thing she wears, even and especially when it's a swan to the oscars and everyone hates her for it and thinks it's an offense akin to killing their child. i love her for that. i have no pictures, and descriptions are boring, so it must suffice to say that i looked fabulous, as did bjork. and when i'm in 'costume', yes, i have a big overinflated ego i like to call "junkie confidence". because dressing up is my fixe.
we met miguel and allison, lovely friends who were kind enough to invite us to this show, for a decadent turkish dinner at dervish. as in whirling dervish, those beautiful spinning kind of religious guys lost in trance. kind of a funny name for a posh pre-broadway dinner spot off times square. but emre made no comment other than "oh my god this food is so good!" obviously, not his direct quote--i think he showed his approval by trying to guess the region from where the chef hails.
anyway, perhaps a funny name, but perhaps appropriate before bjork. wouldn't be surprised to see her spontaneously transform into a dervish, a very cute elvin, flailing dervish, and start spinning.
it felt so good to be completely assaulted by her brilliance. let's just say that as a result of that whole music crossover thing with emre and i, i had become completly sick of her and stopped listening in the past couple of years. she's not even on my ipod. but last night it was all fresh and amazing. even the 'oldies' from her first album when she was the same child spirit she is now. she rocked the house. bjork. thank you. wow.