Hello fellow citizens of this planet, and greetings from cold and snowy Queens. How have you been? Are the winter blues hitting you now that it’s February, which is arguably the longest month of the year? I sit amid my piles of slushy snow, looking at pictures of my friends in Florida, and toasting my feet on my radiator as I sift through bankruptcy claims for errors day after day. The toasting is necessary, because I’ve discovered recently that I can actually see daylight through my wall, so my house is not exactly tight and cozy. “Airy,” a real estate agent would call it. “Breezy.” And boy, it has been coldcoldcold for as long as I can remember. The sun has shone for approximately five minutes this year, and one snow storm follows another, piling more white on the piles of now-gray snow.
I’m not complaining, of course. For one, I don’t believe in complaining about the weather, and secondly, I love winter and was very disappointed when my first winter up here contained only one proper snowstorm. Even my Vermont Christmas followed suit, being laughably brown and warm. But this year has definitely made up for that! Still, I shall swell with gladness when I see the first signs of spring, particularly since my snow boots gave up the ghost and suddenly let in great puddles of water, leaving me spending a wet day on the town with my chilled toes sloshing around in my socks. They had one job!
I’m not at all in the depths of despair though, wet feet aside. Would you like to know a few of the biggest happinesses in my life at the moment?
Indoor dining very recently reopened in the city, and since work has been slow the past few weeks, I have been simply BASKING in hours of coffee shop time. Guys. I had only sat in one coffee shop here one time since about a year ago. For someone who finds great mental and emotional recalibration in coffee shops, not having a warm place to sit and think besides my home was rather a hardship. But now they’re open, (pleaseJesusletthemstayso) and day after day I am nursing cup after cup of coffee and tea as I revisit all my favorites. Currently I’m sitting in a charming little blue one in Sunnyside, strung with seventeen Moroccan lamps and decked with watercolor paintings and smelling like toast. Outside night is falling and I watch the people stroll by on the brightly lit sidewalk, headed home to their dinners and occasionally glancing inside at me with a touch of jealousy. They should be jealous; I’m very cozy in here.
Redeemer West Side has also opened its doors, and so for the moment, I have a church I love which I can attend regularly. I’ve been bopping about here and there, attending a variety of little churches and of course watching my streamed services from my own church. Church hopping is far from my favorite thing to do, and it’s felt rather…unsettling. But Redeemer, ah, I love Redeemer. Brooklyn Tab will always be home, but until it opens, it’s simply wonderful to have a place I can go where I love the music (think jazz hymns- truly amazing) and the preaching is always meaty and Biblical and just good. Dr Timothy Keller, whose teaching has been some of my favorite ever, is both retired and ailing, but the successive pastors also have a gift of saying just the right words. It’s such a joy to have this place to go.
Speaking of Sunday mornings, would you like to hear my little story of train craziness? So, a week ago I was on my way to church, my head buried deep in my phone, when a guy entered the train car and started speaking loudly, I thought to the whole car full of people. This is par for the course on a commute, so I continued what I was doing, when I realized he was standing right beside me, talking to me. He began waving credit cards in my face, saying something unintelligible. At this point he was getting aggressive, and I didn’t want to get involved but he continued talking and gesturing. When I didn’t give him a reaction, he suddenly began spitting on me, over and over. I kept my statue stance, and after a bit, he shuffled on down the car and out the door, his malodorous breath lingering behind on my coat. I was a little shaken, really, and after I thought he wouldn’t come back, looked around the train car to see if people were watching. I caught an older woman’s eye, who gave me this look that said, “Yeah, I saw that, and my goodness, he was crazy.” Just another day on the train…
But the next week I was on the way to church again and as I was scanning the train car, I saw someone who looked familiar. I glanced at her and she glanced at me, and finally she waved a little. Sure enough, it was the same lady- what are the odds! After a while she came to sit by me and started chatting about the previous week, and about how she was scared about what that crazy man would do next! I struggled a bit to understand what she was saying with her thick accent- maybe Polish- and her mask, but I did catch her telling me the angels were looking out for me. She asked where I was headed, and when I told her I was on my way to church, she said she was also on her way to a Catholic church. She kept repeating that the angels will look out for us, and that we need to pray. It seriously made my day; she was such a sweetheart. These stranger interactions really are the best and the worst part of the city.
And to end on a sweet note- I have decided that this is my Year Of Pie. The reason is simple; I love to bake, but when I make cakes it’s almost more dessert than my wee household can consume. Enter pie. Since my ancestors are the people of pies, I think it only appropriate that I also learn to excel at them, so I am practicing with great gusto. So far this year I have made:
- Mixed berry pie with a lattice crust, my first try at that
- Coconut cream pie, which was fairly mediocre
- Peanut butter pie, forever one of my faves. Those crumbs on top though… swoon
- Whoopie pies, which totally count
- French silk pie, a revelation of smooth, chocolatey goodness on an Oreo crust
In case you’re wondering, I have not eaten these all by myself, but even if I had, would I regret it? Doubtful. Once the next sugar craving hits, I’m considering raisin cream pie or shoofly pie. Or maybe I’ll try English meat pies which I’ll serve with minty buttered peas, just to mix it up. What’s your favorite which I should most definitely make?
A Year Ago:
Two Years Ago:
Little Letters, Moving Edition (wow, how can I be approaching two years in New York City?!)