Adventure, Dogs, FUN!, Journal, joy, Lent, Love, Today was Awesome

small joy: 40 days later

I was prompted by ManMadeOceans to continue the small joy list that I started for lent. His reasoning was simple: why not? As soon as I read his thoughts, I couldn’t come up with a good excuse… or I didn’t really want to. Either way, this is still an excellent exercise in finding the good in everyday. Even when that day seems like it sucked, I sit down and force myself to find something good. Lately I am looking for the small joys, wondering which joy is the smallest one to make the biggest difference. Since it is now officially Spring, happiness seems to be just one ray on sunshine away, making each morning an exercise in hope and excitement.


Here’s another 40 day dose of the small joys that have been finding me lately.

Day 41: Taking the scenic route.

Day 42: Finding a hidden fan base for my blog. It’s called “my friend’s moms.”

Day 43: Making out like a teenager.

Day 44: Staying up late on a school night with an old friend.

Day 45: Making 4 Chicken legs for 3 people and feeding the neighbor who just happened to stop by. Then discovering the video to my new favorite song actually feels just like I do when I hear it …THIS!

Day 46: Sushi for lunch and dinner… a Good Friday coincidence!

Day 47: A full day of rest and relaxation.

Day 48: Lending a neighbor sugar.

Day 49: Bacon!

Day 50: Being thanked with groceries.

Day 51: Hanging out with a 4 year old at work. He opened a lollypop for me and made sure I ate it.

Day 52: A white dove in Union Square at 7:55 am. I also saw a squirrel with a newspaper. My only thought was “sodoku.”

Day 53: No boys in the office!

Day 54: Pizza from Giovanni’s.

Day 55: Exit 69 on the Long Island Expressway.

Day 56: Sleeping naked.

Day 57: Seeing my blog stats reach 5000+ hits. Thanks friend’s moms!

Day 58: A long overdue chat with my best gal pal.

Day 59: Impromptu hang out with my neighbors.

Day 60: Drinks with co-workers at Madison Square Eats.

Day 61: Paul has returned!

Day 62: Grocery Shopping at Stew Leonard’s and Stew Leonards Wine Shop in Yonkers.

Day 63: Finding something I thought might be gone forever.

Day 64: Finishing a project started too long ago!

Day 65: “Bad Movie” night turning out to be “Great Movie” night. See what we watched HERE.

Day 66: Making dinner for one of my best friends.

Day 67: Stopped at a red light and saw a cab driver helping an old fat lady with a walker out of the cab on the traffic side of the street.

Day 68: Lunch at Santa Clarita and then a trip to the pet shop to look at the animals.

Day 69: Hugging my mom (and having a dog as a house guest!).

Day 70: Starting THIS gardening project.

Day 71: Coming home to a dog that is just SOOOOO happy to see me.

Day 72: Waking up sore and feeling good about it.

Day 73: Finding money in my purse!

Day 64: Rainy evening road trip from NYC to VA to see my sister and her awesome family. Captain Clam and I sang and joked the entire ride, making 7 hours feel like, well, not 7 hours. Plus, we had a dog with us, so that was pretty awesome, too.

Day 75: Wearing a horse dress to a horse party.

Day 76: Seeing a dog smile.


Day 77: Setting up an old church pew in the living room.

Day 78: Playing in the dirt

Day 79: Waking up to baby birds chirping.

Day 80: Having a great eyelash day!

Well, wasn’t that a journey and a half? There were a few days that really knocked the wind out of me, especially Day 64, where a co-worker’s snide comment about me being dumber than an osculating fan really stuck with me for a few days (and beyond, obviously). Day 77 was a real doozie when one person decided to be a total douchebag, starting all kinds of drama within my family by stirring a pot that should have been filled with gratitude, not unkindness. Finding joy on days like these is often hard because I am left so angry and emotional, which then make my small joys lost and I end up copping out on some other insignificant thing as my joy (like a church pew? really? It is pretty cool though).

It continues to amazing to me how small things can just tear the joy right out of the day just as much as small things can smother the day in love.

My happiest days also came towards the tail end of this past 40 days. Starting #Garden134 is a huge goal for me and Captain Clam, plus helping a dog find a good home and seeing all my family in the span of one week was a real treat (that’s not supposed to sound sarcastic). Day 61 and 66 were real happy days, since one of my best friends ever has returned to the neighborhood (well, and the United States of America). It was a real shit experience when he moved away, and it’s been such a huge joy to reconnect with him and catch up on a few missing years. Welcome Back Paul!

I look forward to sharing the next 40 days with ya’ll. What small joys have you had lately?




FUN!, Garden, joy, New York City, Project, Save The World, South Bronx, Spring

Project: Community Garden 5.21.14

Today’s progress was quick, but made all the difference! I popped into the Farmer’s Market in Union Square and picked up a few easy-to-grow flowers, including Lavender from Lavender By the Bay, and some Marigolds and little white viney something or others. We headed out as soon as we got home so we could take advantage of the rain we are supposed to get this evening. After about only 15 minutes, we were finished with our planting. Sadly, the plot looks like a grave, but we are confident that once the flowers grow in and bloom (and we add more life to the garden, of course) that the space will start to take shape and grow in beauty.


Clams like gardens!


Not a cemetery.

Stay Tuned for More #Garden134 Updates!

Community Garden, Dogs, FUN!, Garden, joy, New York City, Project, Save The World, South Bronx, Spring, Today was Awesome

Project: Community Garden 5.20.14

What a nice break from hard labor! Captain Clam and I fell victim to rain last Thursday, making our trash pile damp and unmovable. Then from Friday to Sunday, we were on a mini Road Trip to Virginia. When we returned, we saw that someone had taken out the bag of garbage that we left in there last week. We also saw that the wind had blown in so much new garbage that we would need to have another garbage day, and would most likely need to make every day a garbage day.

Before I sum up today’s work, I have to tell all of you that Max has found a new loving home with my Sister in Virginia. As we left him there in her arms, I saw this sweet look in his eyes that was both sad to see us leave, and happy to start a new life. The garden is empty without him, but we are still inspired to trudge on and get this garden pulled together.


Happy as a Captain Clam

On a side note, apparently it’s a $150 ticket if caught in the area with a dog. Strange. Apparently no one cared about us or Max in there last week. The cops drove by constantly. I chalk it up to Max being adorable and the fact that no one can get mad at people trying to clean up a neighborhood.

Anyway, we are exhausted from our weekend adventure. This upcoming weekend we are having house guests, but we don’t want that preparation to get in the way of  cleaning out the garden lot. Today, however, was a quick day of garbage pickup and plotting out a course of action. I’ve been on pinterest, searching for gardening ideas to inspire the design. As most DIY gardeners know, there are a billion creative things to do with palettes. Palettes are free and easy to work into any garden design. On the way home from work, the unknown business next door (the one with all the crap in their yard) was getting rid of a few palettes. Welp, what we thought would be an easy day of clean up turned into us building our first terrace palette planter. Captain Clam and I are not on the same page, but when one of us gets going with an idea, the other quickly follows.

Today was a dirty, sweaty day in the garden. It was fun and rewarding, and Captain Clam and I got to see the “designer” in one another. We are preparing to plant our first plants this week (hopefully tomorrow), and have already collected an extra palette to work with. We shall see where these palettes will take us! For now, I am plotting the introduction of an ice cold beer to my belly.

Without further ado…




BEFORE (What a cute Clam!)






Stay tuned for more #Garden134 Updates!



Community Garden, Dogs, FUN!, Garden, New York City, South Bronx, Spring

Project: Community Garden 5.14.14

My poor body. It did not want to move today! Who knew that hard work had these effects! Today’s ailments include a sore back, hamstrings, arms, and neck, and Captain Clam has discovered a tick between his belly button and nethers. YIKES! I also found one on Max last night. So today is tick day. All of our pets will be scrutinized, as will both of us and all our cracks and crevices. What a sexy thought.

I started plotting as soon as I woke up. The walk with Max this morning was brief, but we did visit the site to inspect yesterday’s progress. This project is a lot of work. I am so thankful that Captain Clam is on board. He might actually be more excited than I am! We have also named the garden “Garden 134,” which now has a #Hashtag on Facebook, in case you wanted to get down on a little love and support.

Today’s tasks were easy… buy some tools and pick up garbage. I started with researching some rakes and shovels. We like to buy locally most of the time, so we headed to the local hardware store after work. Captain Clam purchased two rakes and one shovel, while I got to show off Max to the pedestrians. He’s a really good dog, but has no idea how to walk at a city pace. It’s like trying to teach a son-of-a-bitch how not to be a tourist.



Captain Clam and I only spent 45 minutes working in the rubble today. We had spent some time gathering supplies, and have honestly been really exhausted. The weather has also been muggy, making it next to impossible to want to get sweaty and dirty. Luckily we had planned a “light” day of raking up garbage. Apparently, my definition of lightly raking up garbage differs from the Clam’s. We were most definitely not on the same page! At a certain point I gave up raking and broke out the shovel to remove some of the tougher weeds. Once we felt a few raindrops, we started to shovel the debris into a garbage bag. Unfortunately, we only brought 1 bag, not realizing the scope of the mess. UGGH!


Max is totally into the composition of this photograph.

After the bag was full, Max decided he had enough of the dirt and humidity and signaled to us that it was, most definitely, time to leave. We happily obliged and quickly trudged home with blistered hands, sore backs, and dirt in our shoes. And while we feel like today was kind of a bust, the rubble pile is looking better. It’s only a matter of time before we can start planning the garden’s architecture and landscaping. So, without further ado…






We are looking forward to getting back into the piles of dust and trash tomorrow. So, please stay tuned for more Community Garden Updates!


Community Garden, Dogs, FUN!, Garden, joy, New York City, South Bronx, Spring

Project: Community Garden 5.13.14

We are getting old.

Captain Clam woke up with a twisted knee. He said it was from pulling weeds. I didn’t believe him until I tried to roll out of bed. Holy soreness! After only an hour of easy labor yesterday, we are a little bit of a mess today. While my soreness is inspiring (like that good kind of sore after you start exercising for the first time in a long time), Captain Clam had to wrap his knee up for the day (yes, Clams have knees).

I stopped in to visit the garden with Max on his walk this morning. I was slightly discouraged, since the difference wasn’t all that noticeable. I had to keep saying “Little by Little.” After obsessing and daydreaming about the garden all last night, I realized that this project is going to take years to complete. YEARS! A true labor of love indeed!

I was super hyped up on the way back to the apartment and Max and I decided to race across the street to beat the light. He tangled me up and I wasn’t looking where my feet were taking me and “Squeak.” I stepped on a baby bird that had fallen from it’s nest in the fascia of our building. I don’t know if it was already dead when I stepped on it, but it was definitely dead afterwards. What a horrible way to start the day. I had a small meltdown before leaving for work, wondering if maybe the universe was trying to keep my from a high horse as a “life-bringer” to this garden project. Le Sigh*

I’m not sure if the dead bird was an omen, but we ventured back out there this evening to pull some more weeds and just kinda of hang out with the bugs. There is something about working the ground, the smell of earth in springtime, and the sting of sweat and ant bites that just makes you feel kinda wonderful. And so it went, pulling and sweating, throwing worms at each other’s faces and trying to find awesome bugs with too many legs. After an hour, we decided to stop. The sun was starting to set and Max looked bored.


Please lobby to Captain Clam for this pup to stay in the BX… Max belongs with us!


We were really proud of our work this evening. We pulled so many weeds, and even got a few compliments and thank you’s from neighbors and passerby’s. We are at only one bag of garbage so far, but we didn’t focus on trash today as we need to go purchase some gardening tools from the hardware store first. We took our AFTER pictures and headed home exhausted but satisfied. Then we uploaded the pictures and immediately regretted not picking up more trash. Somehow the BEFORE picture looks better than the after, but only because the trash is now visible.










AFTER (Clams can garden!)

Tomorrow will be dedicated to finding the perfect rake and picking up trash. We are still incredibly excited about this project and motivated to see progress. It’s been a great start to this garden, and it certainly feels wonderful to physically labor in the sun and dirt. We even found a few interesting  “souvenirs” that will be used for some art project or another:


Not all garbage is trash.


All in all it has been an extremely productive evening and we are starting to see signs of what might become of the rubble pile. Now it’s off to enjoy a hard earned beer mixed with a hot bath and some ibuprofen.

Stay tuned for more Community Garden Updates!



Community Garden, Dogs, FUN!, Garden, New York City, POOP, Project, South Bronx

Project: Community Garden 5.12.14

And so it begins… a new project.

Captain Clam and I have taken in a stray. Well, he’s not a stray per se, and we are only watching him until the weekend… but we have a temporary dog! Meet Max (who we can’t seem to stop calling Sam).




We have been taking Max out for walks where our neighbors do… in an area next to Interstate 87 where the fence is open (it is the only place he will go poo). We have been dreaming up different schemes to make the area a nicer place for our neighbors to walk their dogs, and we wanted to do a really great project for our own selfish reasons. Of course I jest! We love our new neighborhood and really want to see it beautify. It would also be a great opportunity to pull a community together and even make a few new friends (as I do hear that creating new and meaningful friendships after 30 is quite difficult).

I don’t actually believe the dog had anything to do with the project, as we have been talking about this space for a few weeks, but actually going inside of the “run” made it clearer that something needed to happen. The entire area is overrun with weeds, trash, and broken glass. BUT, within the rubble I saw many different types of flowers growing, mint sprouts were coming up everywhere, and there were even a few ladybugs (and some stupid fucking mosquitos). Captain Clam and I ventured out there this evening with our new houseguest and started pulling some weeds and removing trash. We are confident that this project will be successful and functional as a flower garden for our neighbors and their dogs, and it will be a true test for us in our relationship and as individual designers (and gardeners).


BEFORE! This lady’s booty photo-bombed us.

So there you have it, our very first BEFORE picture. We only worked for about an hour, not really making too much of a difference (AFTER picture to come on the next post (gotta keep you thirsty for more)), but it was hard work and we came in sweating and fully deserving of a beer. Our plan is to work on this project most weekdays and weekends we are in town. I will be documenting the process and hope that you will read and encourage. Hell, if you want to support, feel free to donate plants, supplies, or your time. You can even just send an email and say,  “Hey! My garden needs some help, too!” Maybe you just want to swing by with some lemonade or a few good jokes (and maybe some bug repellant). Captain Clam and I are really looking forward to this project. We also hope that it’s legal. But don’t tell me otherwise. I like a good surprise.

As for MAX… Considering his first act as our houseguest was to pee on a painting, we are a little smitten with him and are considering a more permanent housing arrangement in our aparment. The cats are battling it out now.

Stay tuned for more Community Garden Updates!


Adventure, Food, FUN!, Life, New York, Road Trip, Spring

Road Trip: Beacon, NY

How quickly things are changing.

A few weeks after Captain Clam and I moved, we started talking about buying a pick-up truck. We didn’t want anything fancy, just a little clunker that could make it to Virginia and back a half a dozen times a year. We started stalking Craigslist for a few days just to daydream about what our options were. Then the dream faded and we got on with trying to finish organizing our new apartment. Eventually, we forgot about the truck, but the wish was already released to the universe.

At some point, my dad called asking us if we wanted his old pick-up. And just like that, we are drivers again. We named our Little Mazda “Dino Gadget”, and have been whipping all over the place lately (especially the laundromat). A few weekends ago, Le Clam scrawled an invitation on a torn envelope. He wanted to take me to the DIA: Beacon and stay overnight in a hotel yet-to-be-chosen (his treat). Our first road trip had been planned!

My first course of action was to go shopping. I needed an awesome springtime outfit for our 2 day extravaganza. So I bought 4 different outfits and 6 pairs of shoes. A girl needs to be prepared! I “modeled” my clothes for the Captain and he said I looked like I was from Connecticut. What an outrage! I wore crazy Chevron Shoes and green eyeshadow, just in case anyone thought I was a CT resident (I am still insulted and completely grossed out that he even said that).


The road out of the city was almost painless. We got turned around before we even made it back to the apartment with last minute necessities (like cat food and kitty litter). Once were were all set, there was one more small directional panic, and then we were off.

Once we reached Westchester, we cheered out hearts out! We had made it out of the city on our first grand adventure. As we headed North (avoiding all tolls) the scenery started to change; the air became fresher and warmer. We followed the hand written directions from the Clam, and eventually ended up on Route 9D. The scenery was unbelievable. I had almost forgotten what the mountains and the sky looked like. My ears popped like crazy and we cheered yet again as we entered Beacon, NY on the back roads.

Then we exited Beacon and headed through all sorts of other lovely towns in search of a cheap hotel. We ended up on Route 9, and found that this was a place that looked like it could be anywhere in America. Strip malls with chain stores and a ton of car dealerships full of cars that will never be sold. I hate places like that.

Low and behold, we finally found a hotel. You would think that a place with the name “Mercury Grand Hotel & Convention Center” would be, well, grand. It was everything but. The place was falling apart. I was almost excited about there being a bar and kitchen, since I have never eaten at such an establishment at a hotel before, but the bar was closed (GASP!). The place looks like something that would have been nice in it’s heyday. We booked a room for the night and wandered down a hall lined with books and large empty conference rooms. It was as if the place itself were the ghost.

And there it was. Room 217. What a fucking beauty. It was a double queen with typical hotel art. The bed closest to the door had been made rather poorly, and I wondered if someone had taken a nap in it on their lunch break and had forgotten to straighten the comforter. The room was alright, but had some gross stuff on the ceiling above the shower. The toilet was about 8″ from the floor and tucked under the sink, which is okay by me, but Captain Clam has long legs. Eek! Nevertheless, the room was livable for one night.


Sleep in me…. just for one night-prepaid.

After we dropped our bags off, we hopped back into Dino Gadget and sped off towards our big date at the DIA: Beacon. We snacked on $14 Turkey Sandwiches and $12 hummus while drinking $4 water from fancy glass bottles (which we kept for a future art project, of course). It was more expensive to have lunch than to get into the museum. Next time, we bring a picnic with us. And a tent.


This place is cool. The museum is situated in an old Nabisco Printing factory near the Hudson. The gallery spaces are huge and roomy, allowing for 360 degree visuals of the sculptures. The first gallery we walked into was inspiring, with twisted metal pieces by John Chamberlain (check it HERE & HERE). That’s where we encountered THEM. The know-it-all-artsy-fartsy-late-20-something-art-history-minors. Those people who just don’t let you enjoy the museum. For me, a museum is like a library. You should keep your mouth shut and absorb what is in front of you in peace.


Captain Clam at peace.

There were, however, a few large groups with professors trolling about. Those groups were interesting to eaves drop on, especially at the Sol LeWitt exhibit. One of the installations has inspired a little project for the wall above our bed. Anyway, being around the field trip crew made me realize just how much I miss school and being surrounded by creative people and new ideas.


Fred Sandback String Installation

Captain Clam and I adventured all over the museum and grounds. We made sure to kiss inside each of Richard Serra‘s overwhelmingly huge metal sculptures and explore the simple elegance of a string connected from floor to ceiling. It was important to walk around and view the pieces from all angles. I have got to be honest. Some of the art was crap. It wasn’t even aesthetically pleasing. Some of it was just penises. It made me uncomfortable just how many penises were in this one piece. Where did they come from? Who did they belong to? Why were they at all? I just didn’t get it.


Penis Art

Crappy art is not uncommon, especially with Modern Art. A lot of the time art isn’t about the visual aspect of a piece. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the piece, but rather the viewer or the artist’s process. Like, maybe they made it with their eyes closed while they were drunk or sad? Who knows. Modern Art as pure expression is hit or miss for me, and I assume for most people.

After 2 hours, we hit the gift shop and bought the mandatory DIA: BEACON post card to send my parents (as I promised them post cards from all of our adventures with Dino Gadget). Then we gallivanted around Beacon and perused a few shops along the longest Main Street I have ever driven down! We popped into a bunch of junk and antique shops just to browse. Not looking for anything in particular can be a dangerous game to play. We ended up buying a $5 white marble doorknob with the hopes of replacing the gear shift knob in Dino Gadget. Not too bad of a price for a quick and easy project.

We eventually went into Hudson Beach Glass, which was having an artist reception in their upstairs gallery space. The space featured four artists, whose works complimented each other quite well. We wandered around a bit, pretending to be hoity-toity, unsure if we were being pretentious or if it was just everyone else.


Since it was too early for wine (as if that is such a thing), we went back to the glass gallery to see if we could afford any of the beautiful pieces on display. Some of the pieces were quite exquisite. Even Captain Clam was commenting on some tall and sexy vases. If I had $230 to start a new collection of something, this piece might be my inspiration:


Dodeka Bowl

Captain Clam had a great idea for the next part of our adventure: Newburgh. He read somewhere that Newburgh is the sister City to Beacon, just on the other side of the Hudson. Apparently, crossing the Hudson to Newburgh is like crossing the train tracks to the bad part of town. We live in the South Bronx and kinda understand what a rough neighborhood might feel like. Newburgh was a little scarier. As Captain Clam is quoted as saying, “Newburgh is like being in Tijuana on a bad donkey night.” I have never felt so uneasy in a place. Perhaps we made a wrong turn somewhere. Nevertheless, we got the fuck out of there as soon as we could. Newburgh sucked, as did the surrounding area. After we successfully fled, Captain Clam told me that he just wanted to go there so we could see the view from the bridge. I made him pay the toll back.

After a small stint in a place I hope to never go again, we decided that we needed to eat. We found a “mexican” restaurant with live music. Cascadas Mexican Restaurant was certainly not authentic, but it was good enough. All I can say is, thank the stars for BEER! The food was so bland that it was hard to believe the restaurant thought it was making Mexican Food. Regardless we ate until we couldn’t move and then adventured off to buy discount Beer and Tobacco at the Discount Beer and Tobacco Center.


I have never seen so much beer in my life. They had every kind of beer in the universe (well, except for the one beer that I wanted). So we picked up way too much beer and a package of cigarettes, as well as 2 lotto tickets. I have since misplaced the lottery tickets, which makes me certain that they are million dollar winners.

Upon arriving back to the Hotel and Convention Center, we settled into our cozy cave and I went in search of ice. The ice machine was from 1972 and did not work. Of course I stood there holding the button for a minute before giving up and heading for the front desk. I don’t normally go to the front desk to complain, but I also don’t like to drink warm beer. As I approached the counter the gal in charge said “I LOVE your shoes! Do you need ice?” What!? The Chevron Shoes were a success!! It was now clear that I was not from Connecticut.


Creek View Suite.

While waiting for her to return, I noted a giant leak in the ceiling. The entire ceiling was covered in dark orange water spots, and the carpet had old stains on it from previous damage.  I thought, “what the fuck happened here?” She returned and  handed me the bucket of ice and I asked her “Are you renovating the hotel?” She laughed and said “Oh no. The hotel is actually foreclosed and owned by a bank. They are just waiting for someone to purchase it.” I wish I could remember the joke I cracked, because it was awesome and we laughed and laughed…. sigh.

I returned to our room 20 minutes after I departed for the ice machine. My original plan had been to retrieve enough ice to cover a large portion of the bathtub so we could ice down all of our beer. Of course now I had a tiny bucket of ice and too many beers. We thought the garbage can might be a good cooler, but it was so disgusting! So we opted for a few beers in the bucket and the rest in a plastic bag with some ice.

Then we  proceeded to drink. We played a drinking game to a news program covering the Missing Malaysian Flight. We drank whenever anyone said “Ping” or “Black Box.” Needless to say, the beer disappeared rather quickly. Looking back on it, I do believe that game may have been a little insensitive.

After a few beers, we decided to rearrange the furniture. It was a great idea that quickly backfired. After we moved the desk and lamp and chair, we discovered that when we turned the heater on, we disturbed the stink bug family that was living inside. There were stink bugs EVERYWHERE. Ok, I am lying. There were only about 3 or 4. But still. It was gross. We quickly moved our suitcase off the other bed and checked anywhere else there might be bugs. After monitoring their activities for half an hour, we realized they were probably just as scared as we were. Or they were dead.


The next morning, we woke up refreshed and happy that some of the beer never made it to our lips. The shower was just like home, with irregular water temperatures and varying pressure. We packed up our belongings (beer and all) and headed to the dining area for our free continental breakfast. We went to the food service area and there it was: a Waffle Machine. It was so awesome. I made my own waffle at a bank owned continental breakfast!

So we feasted on free breakfast and checked out. I felt bad about stealing the toiletries, but it is a tradition for all hotel patrons, so I did it anyway. We headed back to Beacon to peruse the Sunday Flea Market behind the post office on Main Street. What fun! We bought a whole bunch of crap that we didn’t need (including a mask, a wooden box, a jump rope, some stained glass, a compound miter saw, and a pewter whale key chain that reads “I ❤ Whales”). We must have gone into Rite Aid to get Cash back at least three times.

We eventually wandered in to this amazing little shop Lord of the Strings, where we met the proprietor, John Vergara. He was one of the most interesting people I have ever met. His insights were smooth and important. He talked to us about how he got involved in making musical instruments, how precision was important in all parts of life, and how mistakes need to be made so they can be lessons in learning. He was much deeper than I can articulate, but you get the point.

John Vergara, luthier

John Vergara, Luthier


A few minutes of chatting made it quite clear the we were not from Beacon. We told him we live in the South Bronx, which is apparently where he is from. He actually grew up about 5 blocks from where we currently live. What are the odds? We finally excused ourselves, as he looked very intent on getting back to his beautiful woodworking.

On our journey down the back roads, we came across this quaint little furniture shop that we just had to visit. By the time we had driven by it 3 or 4 times, we knew a few markers that indicated we were almost there. Most of the markers, however, were dead animals. If you see the dead deer, you’re almost there, but if you pass the splattered raccoon, you have gone too far.

At last, the deer directed us to At Home in the Woods, this great little country furniture showroom. Captain Clam and I are self proclaimed furniture nerds, which made this place a tiny nook of heaven. We felt the need to have to buy something, so we opted for the $11 cutting board. It was on sale.

Beacon and her surrounding towns were quite charming (except Newburgh, of course), but we were ready to move on…. or shall I say up? We headed towards Bear Mountain, hoping to get a bumper sticker for Dino Gadget. We headed around the loop and up the mountain. We went higher and higher until we could drive no more. And what a sight! Part of the drive was a tiny bit scary, since I thought we might fly off the mountain at some point, but it was all worth the fear. We weren’t able to stop at the gift shop because $8 is too much to spend to park long enough to go buy a $5 sticker. No thanks! The bumper stick was not meant to be.


After a successful drive up and down, we started to head home. We kept to the scenic route, hoping to find a cute little somewhere for lunch. We found THIS cute little place in Peekskill, which boasted a zillion Craft Beers and a delicious looking menu. Clam wanted a burger and I opted for a grilled cheese. After what seemed like forever, we received our food. My sandwich looked amazing, but Captain Clam opened his burger, and the entire patty was made of beets. BEETS! I still have no idea why he ordered it (he claimed he thought is was just going to be a topping). The Captain HATES beets in mass quantity. Since I don’t mind them (even though I wanted a grilled cheese since I saw the sign for Craft Beer), I took one for the team and traded lunches.

At first the burger was alright, mixed with goat cheese and a little homemade honey mustard on the side. Then I almost threw up. It was just too much beet! I hated it. I stole some grilled cheese while the Clam as blinking. It would have not been such a bad experience if we could have actually had a few beers, but one of us had to drive and it would have certainly not been fair to the other. Of course having to eat the beet burger wasn’t fair, but there would be beers in our immediate future. So I suffered.

We continued on the scenic route, not knowing our way home. We kept the Hudson to our right, knowing full well that the River would bring us safely back to the Bronx. Ultimately we made it to Yonkers, which is not the coolest place to be on a Sunday evening, but we were almost home and were exhausted from our weekend adventure. We finally found the highway, and were climbing the stairs to the homestead in no time.

The weekend felt so long. It was a perfect weekend, with weather in the upper 60’s. The trees had yet to bloom, but it made way for the imagination. I learned a lot about people. While everyone was nice, most people were so self-involved and important. I kept thinking, “Wow, I really dislike most people.” And that might be true, even if I don’t truly believe it. Captain Calm and I would definitely go back to Beacon, NY. I think we might even stay in the same little shit hole, requesting room 217, just for fun. And now to go find those scratch offs. I am feeling lucky.