Take That, Heart Disease and ALZ

Team Joe Rau completed two walks this autumn and raised money for two fantastic charities.

Heart Walk

The Long Island Heart Walk took us to the boardwalk at Jones Beach. This was super special since that’s where my brother used to take my dad for beach days. We arrived geared up for a Fall walk, and it turned out to be more like summer. First we checked out the shoreline. Such a pretty day for a walk. After walking around from booth to booth trying to win things (I won a hat! He one a keychain! Thanks, Chase Bank!), we walked over to the start line and waited. Then we waited some more. Then we followed suit with a slew of other walkers and unceremoniously began the walk before anyone cut the ribbon. We went around it, not through it, because we’re not dicks.

We pretty much started at the beginning of the boardwalk and walked under overpasses and to the far end. Does it surprise anyone that I was sweating profusely? No? Good. Because that’s exactly what I was doing. My brother was explaining why there was no breeze whenever I pointed out that there was no breeze. What neither of us could explain was why there was a prop plane flying a banner over the water, advertising the Heart Walk. I’m hoping it was a volunteer plane because that’s not why I’m raising money. There’s no need to fly a banner over where the people who already know about the walk are walking. (This is the same issue I have with charities sending me stuff in the mail asking for money after I’ve already given them money. Online. Stop killing trees and wasting postage on the money I’m raising for you please).

We came up to a point in the path where the boardwalk was kind of no longer a boardwalk. We saw people hiking up into the brush over a small hill around a turn where the path became unseeable unless you took the turn with them. We both realized at that point that we’d been walking for quite some time. The walk should have been three miles. We were already at two, which meant that we’d get another two walking back.

2 + 2 = 4
I. AM. A. MATH. GENIUS!

It’s at that point we decided to turn back, seeing that no one from the Heart Association was anywhere along the path to tell us when to turn around. I suppose they thought no one would go up into the brush. However, reaching the brush was still farther than necessary.

The silver lining here was the beautiful walk along the boardwalk. You just can’t beat Long Island beaches.

ALZ Walk

Two weeks later, Team Joe Rau was in Queens for The Walk To End ALZ in support of the Alzheimer’s Association. We arrived and found parking because of the very uninterested volunteers pointing casually in the direction of parking lots. On the plus side, we found parking! On the negative side, the parking lot smelled like pee! We hurried away from there and on over to the grassy area to sign in.

We got bracelets, the kind that stick to the hair on your arms, and then got flowers to carry in honor of our dad and others. We got free snacks because that’s how the ALZ Association rolls–cereal bars and bananas all day, yo. We also took pictures in the photo booth.

We signed a memory wall. We checked out the giveaways and got free bags. Because I need another bag to put into one of my three large and overflowing bags of bags in my coat closet. My brother picked up some catalogs about Flushing. Then we went back to the pee parking lot to put our now filled bags in the car.

Back to the start line. There was a lot of storytelling and explaining about why we were there. The sun was out, shining and hot. I was ready to go. They were not as they talked more. Then we held up our flowers, and that made the waiting worth it. Everyone had flowers spinning in the wind, and it was so pretty. Then there was more talking until finally they cut the ribbon and off we went!

My brother and I aren’t speed walkers as a profession, but we could probably win an Olympic walking event. We caught up to the front pretty quickly. Leading us on the walk was a cheerleading squad. I appreciate pep, for sure! However, when you cheer about Alzheimer’s, even when it’s against ALZ, it still sounds wrong.  Intention? Fantastic! Outcome? No thank you stop cheering about Alzheimer’s please.

We walked by the World’s Fair building and then around it, seeing it from an angle we’d never seen it before. Then we came upon the Unisphere. Yup, this walk was also pretty breathtaking. Everyone stopped to take pictures. The cheer squad climbed into a pyramid for photos. That’s when we made our move and lost them and headed to the front of the pack. We were not the first to finish, but we were some of the first. That’s when I took the worst finish line picture in the history of finish line photos. Then we got more snacks because the ALZ Association understands the power of food as appreciation. I got an apple. He got a bag of kettle potato chips. All was right with the world. When we got back to my brother’s place, we planted our flowers in his garden.

Because we have awesomely generous people in our lives, we raised:

  • $575 for the American Heart Association
  • $305 for the Alzheimer’s Association

If you are a generous person who missed our walks, you can still donate:

Serendipity has me featuring at a poetry reading at Sip This on October 15, which is my dad’s birthday. So while we’re not walking, Team Joe Rau will be on hand to collect donations for the Wounded Warrior Project. That’s an in-person donation collection, but feel free to donate online if you can’t make the reading and still want to donate.

Also at that reading? Some fun Elvis trivia and, of course, giveaways!

Then Team Joe Rau is pretty much done for the season. We’ll see you next Autumn. Or sooner if another charity walk finds its way to our sneakers.

Summertime Still

My Brother Had An Art Opening

After years of hearing it suggested, my brother showed his art in a group exhibit at Sip This. The opening saw lots of family and also lots of sales. Hooray! You can still see Summer Landscapes but for only a short time. You can buy one of the few that are left on the walls, or you can contact the photographer if you’re interested in any other landscape photography. He’s got winter stuff. Spring and fall stuff. City stuff. Country stuff. Lots of gritty stuff. I’m not an agent. Just a fan. A friggin happy proud sis and fan.

 

Sip This Had A Birthday Party

Going 8 years strong, Sip This is a local community heaven. Sure, I know, it’s a coffee house, but really, it’s the place that’s been the hub of all things art, commerce, social, supportive, and whatever other kind of gathering you can think of. Love them!

My Longest Friend Had A Birthday

It’s Virgo season! S decided to celebrate her birthday with trivia. We headed to Juke Bar in NYC. It’s the best bar. They are super accommodating if you want to reserve a table (no minimum or deposit needed). They let you bring in food. They offer interesting cocktails. As for the trivia, ooh, it was a tight race. Because there were seven of us, we split into two teams: Team It’s My Birthday and Team It’s Her Birthday. Team It’s Her Birthday (which I was on) was leading by a point for two rounds. Then came a round about sandwiches and another about HBO that included a theme song from First And Ten that starred Delta Burke (which S knew. of course) and then a bonus question about harmonicas. Also, Ryan Sutter is not a hockey player. What all this adds up to is Team It’s Her Birthday tied for third. Team It’s My Birthday came in second and won a round of shots. A good day for a birthday. A great day for longest friends.

 

I Took A Defensive Driving Course

AAA offers an online course complete with videos of car crashes. I learned that I should be using some sort of pedal extenders because I’m under 5’5″. Also, they want me to move my mirrors. We are all apparently not using our mirrors in the right position. You know how long it took me to get them where they should be? Now they want me to rethink the whole positioning? That’s, like, rethinking who I am at my core.

Fun Was Had From City To Suburb

Line dancing has been iffy because of the weather. One night after the rain, they had a squeegee guy come out onto the concrete and mop up the puddles so we could dance! Otherwise, it’s been canceled. Sigh.

 

A bunch of poetry readings have been fun. I read at the Gazebo and made crazy poet faces. Then I dedicated an entire album on my FB writer page to crazy poet faces over the years. In addition to Gazebo readings, mine and others, I headed to others from Sip This (how many times can I say that in this post?) to Industry.

In watching news, I started watching the newest season of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. I also started Veronica Mars with EA; we also saw Hobbes & Shaw, which was not a work of cinematic genius but was a work of pretty things to look at. Here, things means Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. I am not ashamed. I’m still binging The Mindy Project. I’m watching Big Brother and enjoying the captioning as well as the Long Island / New Jersey accents.

[Click the pic.twitter.com link to see captioning at its comedic best].

Because Liberating The Astronauts won the SFPA Elgin Award last year, I’m committed to reading as many nominated collections as I can and voting this year. I bought six that really struck a chord with me, and as of yesterday, I finished reading all six. Hooray! Also, I met my Goodreads challenge already. That’s barely a dent in my TBR pile, but it’s still a dent. I’m back to reading books from Book Expo now.

I did some write-ups based on interactions from Book Expo that appeared on Book Riot. More to come! Also a piece about Whitman–yes another one–is about to come out. This one is about the exhibit at The Morgan Library, which also had an exhibit about Maurice Sendak that I didn’t write about because big costumes scare me and that’s pretty much what the whole exhibit was about.

 

Another fun thing I saw in the city was Bat Out Of Hell, the musical based on Meatloaf’s music, with much thanks to my friend DB for getting us comped tickets. While most of the music was Meatloaf, there were other surprises that were simply outstanding. Some of the plot and scenes and dancing didn’t make sense to me, but I didn’t really care because it was so entertaining. Before the show, there was a huge half a head that needed to be inspected in Central Park.

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I finally got to see Long Island’s Best Wedding Band live! Sound Chaser played at an Italian feast nearby, so clearly they do weddings and more, and they were fabulous! Yeay! Also, my mom danced and some drunk dudes danced with her.

 Odds and Ends

I helped my brother build a shelf. The shelf fell apart. I’m writing a very strong letter because it couldn’t have been our fault. I used a power drill and everything.

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Some of the prettiest sunsets and sunrises came through my window.

 

 

OH, Ironman!

My cousins tackled the Ironman in Ohio, and I was there to watch. My part in this challenge was simple: do whatever they wanted me to do.

So my brother and I drove by corn fields upon cornfields to stand in the blazing sun for hours to catch a glimpse of them for 30 seconds. SO WORTH IT.

My brother and I drove back and prepared a barbecue, complete with decorations of congratulations. SO WORTH IT, especially since my brother has fire-phobia and the grill caught on fire when he was grilling so there was a lot of spatula waving and running away.

I cleaned the kitchen, and my brother threw out the garbage. I sat on the deck, and everyone went swimming in nature’s water where there were ducks and plants and other live creatures below the surface. We all laughed a lot. We all caught up a lot. My brother, my uncle, and I froze in the tundra of the lower level of the house.

My cousins asked me to sign my books they’d bought and brought. My cousin read a poem from the book, and then so did my brother.

There was some drinking, and I had half a sip of a kamikaze and remembered why they were so dangerous. Also dangerous is the incredible loyalty my family has towards me after this past year and a half.

There was a boat debacle in which my cousin needed to pull a boat with some water in it out of the water before it rained so there would not be more water in it. My brother was then enlisted to help, which entailed a lot of supervising. My other cousin then went down and practically lifted the boat all on her own. Then there was the need to flip it over. The rest of us stood above on the balcony, acting like Statler and Waldorf. The scene offered some great comedy for the family sitting on their deck across the lake from us.

There was a birthday celebration. More decorating. Some cake. There were early morning conversations over tea. There were loads of dishwashing in a dishwasher that fell out of the wall when opened.

There was also sightseeing. My brother and I hit up Columbus where we found:

A scrap metal horse and other large things. Ohio State campus is a city unto itself.

The Arnold Schwarzenegger statue. After driving in circles and not finding it anywhere, I pulled the car over and yelled at the map. That’s when my brother looked up and said, Hey, is that it? And it was! Hooray!

The World’s Largest Gavel. Under construction so I couldn’t get up on it, but I got up as near it as possible, and it was gavelicious.

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Scioto Mile. This was like my brother’s Becket Shrine of Canterbury. We walked along the mile and found public art, which is, as we all know, one of my top ten favorite things in the entire world.

A deer on a bridge. Not much more to say about that.

The German Village. For us little Raus, this was heaven. We found The Book Loft, which has 32 rooms of reading pleasure. We also found Schmidt’s Haus Restaurant and Schmidt’s Fudge Haus, and it was like home.

Back at the house, more swimming, more lounging, more laughs. I taught a quick yoga class. There was always something cooking or baking in the kitchen. We all had matching shirts.

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Family. Is. Everything.

Baseball, Art, and A Little Moon Magic

What do sports, sculpture, and Apollo have to do with each other? Easy. It’s how I summer.

Remember last year when my brother and I went to the Cyclones game on Seinfeld night and watched the Seinclones play? This year, we rooted for the Marble Ryes. And we took the same picture.

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Also included were: a Spare A Square face-off in which teams unrolled TP rolls by wrapping them around their partners; a Marble Rye Toss which was an egg toss using a loaf of marble rye; and an AssMan contest in which two grown men sat on balloons to pop them. Of course, there was an Elaine Dance Contest, and the woman who won was outstanding and not even in costume. She simply had the moves.

We’d sat next two a group of men, three adults and a child maybe around 5, and they left during the 4th inning with the oldest mumbling to me, I’m surprised we made it to almost the 5th. This little boy was happy when he was eating, so they got him a huge ice cream cone but didn’t get napkins, so he was covered in ice cream almost head to foot. Also making him happy was the destruction of four Fusilli Jerry figurines. Oh, the travesty!

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Outdoor art makes me happy. My photo-poet-stunt-team friend and I went to Old Westbury Gardens to take pictures. There were some creepy statues around for an exhibit about balance. Once was diving head-first into the lawn donning a bright blue swimsuit. It was weird. Some statues, however, were pretty like the dancer-inspired ones. There was also a marionette puppet thingie up in a tree. Looming. Like if it had been nighttime, it would have come to life and went all Blair Witch on everyone. Anyway, photos were fun, and I’ve got some new head shots along with some very fun vibes.

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Indoor art makes me happy as we learned when we first kicked off the summer at the Nassau County Museum of Art. Because I’m on the ‘Gram all the time now (seriously, I need to lock myself out of my account for a while), I caught a friend’s story that included a piece by the artist Jen Stark (which I found out only after DMing him and making him go through all his past posts until he found the one I was looking for). She had an exhibit at the Joshua Liner Gallery, so I went to that the day I had some time to kill before a focus group (one of my many side hustles). Right around the corner was the Heller Gallery that had very expensive glass pieces that I made damn sure not to bump into or knock over because this gal can’t afford broken artwork and also an exhibit called Collaborations with Queer Voices.

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Jen Stark’s work

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Mesmerized by the pricing, I didn’t catch the artist’s name.

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Alok Vaid-Menon

Also, I have a new favorite poetry reading series, and it’s at an art gallery called Industry. At the last reading, I found a friend.

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Fifty years ago, Apollo 11 touched down on the moon. On the exact anniversary at the exact time, the Cradle of Aviation Museum lowered a 1/3-sized replica onto their makeshift moon surface. Everyone there waved flags and cheered. It was quite the scene. Outside, there were moon buggies for children to ride around in and pick up fake space rocks. I was not allowed to ride the moon buggies. Sigh. However, I sat in a 70s-style living room to watch the footage of Armstrong stepping down. I also went into the IMAX theatre to watch CNN’s documentary on Apollo 11 with never-before-seen footage. This is proof of how much I love my mom; IMAX makes me dizzy as soon as I’m in the theatre, even with nothing on the screen. She was in heaven all day long. It was a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day after the actual day (yep, I give good presents). And now we’re members of the museum because we got discounted snacks if we joined.

 

Additionally, I melted during the heatwave with no A/C. It’s by choice. I don’t like air conditioning, so every summer, I debate about whether or not to put in my air conditioner. Last summer, it was hot three days, and I was okay. This summer, it was hot three days, and I walked around my house cursing at myself. So maybe next year, I’ll cave and put in my a/c. But then again, maybe not. Because this is how I summer.

Warhol Ukrainian Style

In keeping with the theory that there’s never enough Warhol, I stayed at work late one night to hear a lecture by the author of The Factory. There were slides and a good amount of Warhol history. Then there were YouTube videos of interviews. I kept texting my brother with excitement: Now he’s talking about this! Now he’s talking about that!

Then on a sunny yet rather chilly Saturday, I made my way from Penn to Cooper Square, wandered around looking at the map on my phone and street signs in a rather circular path, and then found 6th Street mostly by accident. There stood The Ukrainian Museum. Inside was Warhol, awaiting our presence.

Once my brother arrived, we headed straight to the second floor where the rather small but really neat exhibit stood. There were some ink and paper drawings, one of which is a collaboration between Warhol and his mom who did calligraphy. There were pieces that copy his soup cans. There was his mom’s prayer book that had a cover make out of a Chivas bottle’s box. The main show were several prints of endangered species that looked pretty psychedelic.

Side Note: We didn’t find this on our own. S’s mom tipped us off. How she knew about this tiny exhibit in this tiny museum is a mystery. I mean, I could ask, but what fun would that be?

We couldn’t take pictures, so I took some pictures, and all the while my brother was like, The guard is right there…the guard is right there….the guard is right there. I’m not a jerk. I’m not sharing the photos. I did take a picture of his signature on the wall which was before the sign that said no pictures, so I’m assuming that’s not copyrighted.

On the first floor was an exhibit of Ukrainian garb. Lots of intricately woven shirts stood in several displays. Interspersed throughout were also skirts and table cloths, and we realized that telling the difference between them was difficult unless we read the labels on the displays. Both kinds of textiles have very pretty intricate patterns.

When we were about to leave the museum, the guy at the front desk told us to take the elevator to the basement because there was one more exhibit. Enter Christina Saj’s Re:Create–the best exhibit around. Each painting uses a steel canvas so that you can add your own magnetic pieces. My brother became a bit focused on finding birds to add to each piece. I added some abstracts to several pieces. Then we found these magnetic sticks and collaborated on a piece together. We could have added letters to make words, but then a group of children came in, which cued our departure.

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Portrait: Bird

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I added the flowery things.

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Another bird! The light hits this one perfectly.

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We added the straight lines. 

Now that we were artists, we stopped by one final small gallery on the first floor and headed out. I was fortunate enough to get an impromptu tour of former music venues that my brother pointed out as we looked for a place to eat. (You, too, can soak in this NYC knowledge by booking a tour with my brother who can’t help but give tours whenever we’re walking around NYC. Greenwich Village, East Village, Brooklyn Bridge, he’s got the skillz: http://newyorkbroadwaytours.com/private-nyc-walking-tours/).

We found a BBQ place that I tried to reserve on OpenTable to get points, but this location didn’t offer points. (BTW: If you’re on OpenTable, make sure you toggle on. There was an app update that made earning points a choice–why else use the app other than to get points? Whatever. Toggle on, people.)

When we went inside, we saw it was an order-at-the-counter place, which is why I couldn’t reserve. What I lost in points, I was made whole by the decadence of sweet potato casserole. We feasted. Thank you, Mighty Quinn’s, you do good BBQ.

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After following my brother to get to a subway (he’s a tour guide! he knows how to get to the subway!), we took a train back to Penn where I left him to get home. I found a train waiting for me–this keeps happening, perfect timing!, no jinxing–so I settled in. Then I saw this little guy hanging out on the ride home.

Train Fun

Never Enough Warhol

You know how far the Whitney is, right? In case you don’t remember, here ya go. This time, I walked in what I thought would be chilly weather. Whenever I walk in Manhattan Chilly Weather, I wind up overheating. Not to be proven wrong, I met my brother outside the museum and when we got inside, it was a balmy 1437 degrees.

Being so close to another Warhol exhibit, I let myself die a little from the heat as we made our way upstairs, like all the way up, to start our adventure. I found a cow hallway to step to the side and peel off every layer except my t-shirt. That’s how we layer. Lots of layers ending in a t-shirt. If I could have taken off my boots, I would have.

This is not the first time we’ve Warhol’ed together. We saw an exhibit a few years back at the Morgan Library. This was one we could not take pictures of, so I kept sneaking pictures, and he kept walking away from me in case I got caught. It’s a fun game.

There was another time even years before that. I kept reminding him: Don’t you remember we saw that Basquiat/Warhol exhibit? And he was like, No. I was like, I was at the Met or something. And he was like, No. And I was like, Yeah your reaction to one of the paintings was something like, There’s a duck another duck and a chicken. And he was like, No definitely not.

So after I came home, I looked it up and found that we’d been to the Brooklyn Museum and I texted him to inform him he’d said: there’s an envelope, the envelope again, and a glass of milk.

He was like, How did you remember that? And I was like, It’s years of blogging paying off. (a now defunct blog in the archives of Blogger that I can get into only when I remember my old password).

Anyway, so this exhibit at the Whitney explored more facets of Warhol from A to B and Back Again. Because that’s what the exhibit is called. There were screen tests and a time capsule. The aforementioned cow wallpaper. One of the floors offered a film of his mother sleeping. The Brillo boxes and Campbell’s Soup cans. The collaborations. The bottom gallery was all portraits so we tried to guess who the portraits were and we knew maybe three. That’s a testament to how much work Warhol actually put out. It was privately commissioned. The guy worked worked worked. He silkscreened like no one’s business. It’s so impressive. Here, my brother is mooooved by the cow wallpaper (I hate myself for that). I am doing my best Mona Lisa impression (one of my artist friends tells me I look like her). And then there’s Elvis, a nod to dad, of course.

Because we were already there and the Whitney is so far, I was like, let’s look at the other exhibits. We took in Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies. The idea was art that makes itself based on programs and technology. There was a room with light bulbs that he was like, That looks cool .But then we went inside and he was like, This was better from the outside. So he left while I sat under some flickering light bulbs for a while. I very much enjoyed the geekery, while he walked through perplexed.

After that, we stopped by the permanent exhibits. Couldn’t help ourselves when we saw this. (This makes no sense unless you’ve seen Weekend At Bernie’s).

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Good God! It’s a Lichtenstein! 

We talked about The Factory and documentaries that we each saw that the other might like as we made our way down the stairs one last time and out into the not cold night and into the diner down the street. PS: there are not a lot of casual eateries near there because it’s so far from everything, so this diner was everything two casual diners would want.

The payoff of being so far are the views from the rooftops. This is free art.

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Seinclones

Seinclones 2018 (23)My brother took me to my first Brooklyn Cyclones game and it was Seinfeld night, so my brother wins Best Sibling Of The Year.

Also, we drove from Long Island to Coney Island on the Belt Parkway in 40-something minutes. I know, guys, I know. We won the Traveling The Belt Parkway Award, too.

Also, we got there so early that the gates weren’t open yet and there were lines. We got a Keith Hernandez Cyclones alarm clock. Across the face is Keith Hernandez’s face with Nice Game Pretty Boy written under it. They were already selling on Ebay before the game started.

When we got to our seats, we listened to the episodes of Seinfeld they were playing over the loud speakers. We laughed out loud a lot. Also laughable–the team was called the Seinclones for the evening.

The festivities included some of the usual games like the hot dog race (Relish won) and throwing a bean bag through the hole in a cardboard sign that said Dime. These I know are usual games because this is the kind of thing that happens at a lot of minor league games. I wish all baseball games were like this.

In addition, we witnessed some of the greatest Seinfeld-themed games like The .5K Inagural Mr. Bellavaqua Run. The games had the greatest names and I can’t remember them all, but the rest included: Mr. Pitt’s eating Snickers with a knife and fork contest; eating eclairs out of garbage pails; throwing golf balls into an inflatable whale’s blow hole; flip cup with Ovaltine; running the bases on a toy horse while scarfing down beefarino.

Before each contest, they showed a clip that inspired them. Also, Bania and Jean Paul Jean Paul were there. They threw out ceremonial pitches. Jean Paul Jean Paul set off the .5K run. Bania set off the Ovaltine contest. They both sang during the 7th Inning Stretch.

After the game was over, one more contest unfolded. It’s the one I would  have been in had I known how to enter and now I know for next year so I have to go again. It’s the Elaine Dancing Contest. About 8 women walked out onto the field and let their little kicks go.

Three of them were wearing the early-Elaine attire of long flowery frocks and glasses. One of those women also had the Elaine-bag and Elaine-hair. Her get up was impressive. I did make a comment to my brother, though, that Elaine wore a black outfit when she danced. Sure enough, she came on the screen in the outfit I described as they played the clip. Still, the flowery frocks were amusing.

The woman who went from head to toe Elaine also danced the Elaine dance with sheer abandon. Several of them did, throwing their heads back and kicking and flicking around. The woman with the Elaine-everything won. When the emcee handed her the trophy, she didn’t take it. Instead, she shoved him–Get Out!

As far as baseball games go, I’d say this is surely my top experience by far. Next year, I wear black and offer some little kicks of my own.

Forts!

My brother the history teacher/photographer and I the poet/all around geek set out on another tour of almost-edge-of-central New York. This time, it was all about artillery. The plan didn’t specify “see as many cannons as possible in one day,” but our touring led us to do just that. In addition to cannons, we also saw creepy things, maps, sweeping landscapes, and torrential downpours followed by walls of humidity that we felt and breathed in as well. Basically, it was your typical summer day of I Love NY frolicking.

We first stopped at Knox something or other. It’s not very memorable because we couldn’t go inside. It was a building. There was a sign covered in bugs I’d  never seen before. There was a guy with a parks shirt on who disappeared. So then we left. Fun times.

We made our way to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor which is on the grounds of Washington’s final cantonment. Here is a word I cannot pronounce no matter how many times I hear it. It’s like a fancy word for camp. The Hall of Honor is one of the saddest places I’ve ever visited–and I’ve visited Dachau. The museum shows the history of the Purple Heart and houses the only known original patch from when Washington first created the honor. The entire history of its development is on display.  Many veterans were quoted as saying it’s the honor you don’t want to get (because you have to be injured in battle to earn it) but it’s the one that makes them most proud. We watched a film that documents veterans sharing stories of how they earned their Purple Heart, and some of them earned more than one. I sat there feeling pretty pathetic and sad. Anything I can do for a veteran, Purple Heart or not, I’m always up for because I know I couldn’t possibly be in the military ever.

We checked for our uncle in the roll call. He’s not listed so we got the information on how to get him on there. If you know someone who’s earned a Purple Heart, have them fill out this information and get listed. They deserve it.

The cantonment was a whole other kind of place but in the same place. I think it’s set up for kids because there were things to touch and lift and poke at. There was a whole lower level of artillery. Quite a few cannons. You think you’ve seen one and you’ve seen em all, but nope! The French decorated their cannons like dolphins!

The grounds sprawl more than they seem from the entrance. We found all kinds of structures, some that had original pieces like doors and battens. There was a hole in the floor in one building and we found out it was because of groundhogs. We didn’t see any animals, but after that, I was on high alert.

Keeping with the theme of Washington, we headed towards his headquarters. Which was under construction with a new roof and some other things happening across the grounds. It didn’t exactly scream authentic from the outside with all the pick up trucks and equipment, but the inside was preserved as if Washington were still there. We got a personal tour because no one else was taking the tour at the time we arrived. We learned that people from that time period slept sitting up or grown men had to share beds that seemed to be children’s sized. All these beds folded for travel.

Also, at that time, if you wore glasses, you were thought to be disabled and weak and shunned. Washington wrote in really big handwriting, and only once did he put on his glasses in front of his men. They saw it as a sign that the war was taking its toll even on the great Washington. This is why I wear contacts.

Onto Fort Montgomery! Where the skies opened and rain basically plopped down all at once. This kind of rain was the kind that didn’t cool anything off and made the outdoors seem like invisible soup. From fog comes cool photos, though. Plus, my brother and I found the Appalachian trail, a trail we once tried to hike together several years ago but wound up on different mountains and never met up. We finally made it together at Fort Montgomery. We didn’t go very far, though, because mud.

After overhearing a very confusing conversation between my brother and me about geography and my lack of spatial understanding, a woman behind the counter offered to show a film to us. We watched and  learned a bit more about the attacks during the war. Out in the lobby, there were more firearms plus mannequin-like men in positions of being in battle that was off-putting for my tastes. See? This is why I can’t be in the military. I can’t even hack it with fake soldiers.

After that, we arrived at Stony Point State Park. We had an animal encounter but it was okay because we were in the car and it was in the woods. They have a lighthouse and a small museum. They also have an outdoor set up of what a military camp might look like. Plus, all the way at the top of the hill, there’s a lookout point. Plus plus, another cannon.

 

We traced many wins and losses that day. Spoiler alert: We won the war.

To celebrate, we found a diner and ate while the second round of torrential downpour spouted out of the skies. By the time we were done, the sun was shining again and we walked out into a wall of thick heat that made my brother’s glasses fog up. And that’s why I wear contacts.

Hyde Park Hudson

The Roosevelt clan has an intricate history that can get convoluted in many branches of their family tree across New York. Teddy Roosevelt was all the rage two years ago when my brother and I visited Sagamore Hill. This year, we turned our sights to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, his wife but also his distant-some-number-removed cousin. Don’t ask me to explain it. The tree is confusing. Ask a park ranger. They know everything.

Incidentally, I’d just seen that sprawling tribute to FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt in DC, so I was primed for this occasion.

We got up to the Roosevelt headquarters in time for a tour of the home. Because we were a small group, we fit on the little tram that took us from the park building to the house. A distance of maybe a three minute walk, so we felt kind of silly taking a ride. But what were we gonna do? Be jerks and say, Nope! We’re better than all of you and prefer to walk! Jerk move, no thank you.

The views from the back of the house sparkle and gleam. The inside of the house is mostly roped off (and we couldn’t go upstairs because it was hot and there was  no A/C, and again, we wouldn’t have minded, but again, we’re not going to be the jerks). The most interesting thing about the house is the glass walkway installed over the stairs and ramp from the foyer into the office. It preserves not only the physical materials but also the fact that a President of the United States who was nominated and then elected for four terms did all that while needing the assistance of 10-pound braces and a wheelchair. We need more of that can-do attitude these days. And maybe a bit more of a return to class. At least, like, civility. At least, like, in public.

We moved onto the library. Fact: The FDR Presidential Library was the first presidential library and he used it while in office. This is the point of a library. This library has his car in the basement, too. Letters to the president hang on the wall, and not all of them are complimentary. One guy wrote a letter to say how he was disappointed in his vote for FDR. Someone else sent him a recipe.

The exhibit showed posters from the world wars, complete with an alert at the beginning to warn that there would be insensitive references to Japanese Americans. There was not warning that it would also have completely sexist materials, but I guess that’s just, like, everything, so no warning needed. I kept thinking, oh that might be racist, and, hmm, that’s got a bit of the racism. Then I turned a corner and saw a poster that started out Jappy Jappy, and was like, ahhh, there’s the racism. Which means that racism appears on lots of levels from subtle to in-yo-face. The sexism I simply stopped taking note of. Because I’m a girl. Thinking is hard.

These posters really made me realize how much World War II was the main focus of life in the United States at that time. One war played part in the country taking a turn for the worse. Then another war made the country start to thrive. Everyone had a part. Don’t travel because traveling is for the troops! Rationing means the troops get to eat! Gossip gets troops killed! Hey, Ladies, write a letter to a fella!

Another Fact: The iconic Rosie The Riveter campaign did not catch on until much later as part of widespread nostalgia and a move towards feminism.

It would be nice if one day we could have peace unite us and thrive on that. The military’s goal would be to help in times of natural disaster and need. It would be really, really nice.

The rest of the library houses: the war-room complete with maps and rotary phones; FDR’s office that includes a copy of Ferdinand the Bull; a statue made out of pieces from the Berlin Wall; drawers and drawers and drawers of archived files.

The grounds also have a rose garden that grows roses and other pretty things. There lies the Roosevelts and their dog, too.

Onto Val-Kill, the side of Val-Kill Industries and the home that Eleanor owned. There’s another long story about all that, which I cannot even begin to retell. Again, ask a park ranger. The tid-bit I remember clearly is that Mrs. Robinson, that song from The Graduate that really has nothing to do with The Graduate, was originally entitled Mrs. Roosevelt. Mind. Blown. Right?

Upon arrival, a park ranger in a tram asked if we would like a ride up to the the Vistor’s Center. Because when we pulled in I’d literally said out loud, I wonder where we go now, I said to the guy, Sure thing! We took a very quick ride up a small hill on a dirt road and over a one-lane bridge that’s smaller than my driveway. Again, we felt a little silly, but really, this help us figure out where to go. (Later on when we were leaving, the tram ranger pulled up next to us and asked if we wanted a ride back. We politely declined.)

We stood in the room where Eleanor Roosevelt spoke to JFK when he came to ask for her support. She agreed to support him only if civil rights were a major part of his platform. We stood in a room where much of the furniture had been made on-sight. We stood in rooms that were only a percentage of the original because the grounds had not originally been declared a landmark and everything was sold at auction.

Hey, if you bought something from that auction, return it. It’s history. And don’t be a jerk and ask for lots of money for it. Eleanor Roosevelt did lots of good things, so do a good thing, back.

Also, at some point in wandering through rooms of files and historical content, I realized that Herbert Hoover and J. Edgar Hoover weren’t related. Okay, to be completely honest, I knew that there was a Herbert Hoover and I knew that there was a J. Edgar Hoover, but in my mind, somehow, they were the same person. So when I posed the question, When was Hoover in charge of the FBI, before or after his presidency?, my brother literally palm-slapped his forehead. And I was like, Oh, yeah, two names, two people, were they related, though? Another palm-to-forehead. So that’s a no.  I’m a teacher!

Then it was time to walk over the Hudson. Walk Over The Hudson is a pedestrian/cyclist span across the Hudson. It gets you really close to the sun in 90 degree heat, but the wind from the elevation is a nice trade-off.

Because we were in the direct sun, I put on my hat. My head shape and hats do not play nicely. Because we were in the direct sun, I was sweating buckets, which should surprise no one. Additionally, I had on my free sunglasses that I got at Summer Solstice. What I’m getting at here is that I clearly was the most attractive gal out and about in the Hudson Valley. Back it down, gents! Back. It. Down.

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Even nicer are the views. Stunning. Truly stunning.

Also stunning, quite literally, are lightening strikes, as this sign hints towards.

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Capping off the day, we ate at a diner. My favorite type of restaurant! Eveready Diner appeared on Season 1 of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, so my brother was excited about that. I’ve eaten at two other DDD places, and they both were bleh. This experience turned that bleh into a yum! The food was so friggin good. Since my brother is a history teacher who loves DDD, this entire day was my birthday present to him. Happy Birthday, big brother!

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Office Space wrecking the printer

Wreck It, Raus (and Rau Adjacent)

I was feeling kind of down, so S and my brother decided to pick me up. Enter The Wrecking Club (literally). First we grabbed dinner at Southern Hospitality during which we looked up the history of Justin Timberlake’s involvement and differentiated between Justin Timberlake who’s from Tennessee and Justin Bieber who’s from Canada. Also, I had an Elvis spotting.

Elvis with boxing gloves

We walked over to The Wrecking Club. We saw this and I realized I was pretty much home.

Office Space wrecking the printer

We signed waivers. We got a safety spiel. We geared up. We ordered from the menu:

  1. a Walrus Bucket (vases, bowls, bigger breaking stuff–we don’t know why it’s named after a walrus)
  2. a bucket of plates

Then my brother added, And an office phone!

I was like, what?

He was like, Yeah a phone.

I was like, Really? What do you have against phones?

He was like, I just want to see what it’s like to break one.

Fair enough. We were in the right place for that.

And so, for the next half hour, we threw stuff against a wall. We threw stuff on the floor. We beat stuff up with crowbars and bats. This sounds very violent, but really, it was hysterically funny.

Afterwards, we took in some public art. Which means it’s FREE! And it’s for everyone! Check out the Loop!

A great way to turn a frown upside down!