Sunday, June 14, 2009

Here's the Rub

How to sum up a week of travel, work, training, education, networking, fun, walking, food and family in one blog entry. Hmmm, this will be a challenge.

Let me start from the end, rather than the beginning. I am home, in Albuquerque, after a long flight yesterday that dropped me in the Sunport about 11:15 PM.

Prior to that I had enjoyed watching Kurt talk routes and rates with a NY cabbie (just imagine the cabbie rolling his eyes and responding in an overly patient voice while hiding the gritting of his teeth: "Yes, I know how to get to La Guardia Airport"). But I did get a flat rate, including tip, so the cabbie could take whichever route he wanted and I would not have to worry about being overcharged. It pays to have a haggling attorney for a son!

And I played hide and seek with Makinlee - in her bathroom, both of us, one hiding and one counting...let me say it again "in the same bathroom" - which found me curled up in the bathtub while she counted as she sat on the closed toilet and then opened all the cupboards before pulling aside the CLEAR shower curtain to find me! She is such a good finder!

Just before heading home, we had added a few more miles to our walking step count of the past two days and headed to South Street Seaport - a kind of undiscovered shopping mall with sidewalk vendors, high-end stores, a farmer's market, a beach, an ECOBoat, restaurants, a miniature golf course and a singing group from Sesame Street (it was Children's Day). How fun!

Prior to that we had taken the subway home from Madison Square Park - not Garden - where we had participated in the biggest block party in the US, with BBQ stands from all over the nation. More on that later...

Everyone loves BBQ - PIG, or so it seemed!

On the subway ride home following the BBQ/block party, an older black man who was hunched over a blindman's cane as if he had done a lifetime's work in that same position, walked jauntily down the aisle of the jolting subway car singing a wonderful collection of old and new songs. He was slight of build, topped with a NY Yankees cap, dressed in clean and dapper clothes, cream-colored jazz sweater, white shirt and pants (complete with belt and suspenders) and tennis shoes. He had the creased face of someone who had smiled often and he could still carry a tune, keep the beat and remember lyrics, all shared with us through a strong, confidant and clear voice (it made me try to imagine what he must have sounded like in his youth).

As he serenaded the mostly inattentive but captive audience, he moved down the car with a plastic tub held out for tips, I felt a mixture of emotions for this man, wondering in a nanosecond what had brought him to this place in his life, where his family members were, where he lived, how he lived and how he had come to sing - in a gospel choir, at his mother's knee, in the cotton fields of the south? As these thoughts were moving through my brain faster than the speed of light, a sudden change in tempo - both in the movement of the subway car and in his song - brought me back to the present.

First of all, in spite of the jerks, bounces, stops and starts of the subway, he managed to stay upright and balanced on his tennis shoes and cane, but even more amazing were the words falling from his lips - "If you want my body and you think I'm sexy...come on Baby let me know....."

What?!?! Double take time!
We (Kurt, Ashley, and their friends Dean and Elise, along with Makinlee, Dallin and Lily) were caught by surprize. After all, just prior to this particularly intriguing rendition of the old Rod Stewart song he had been singing a lovely southern ballad.
It was a kind of melodious call to stalled action, a lyric-filled moment of fuzzy clarity, a juxtaposition of reality. OK, it seemed to be a total incongruity: the man, the song, the venue.

Our reaction was fairly unanimous and simultaneous, however - first blinks, then heads tilted to listen for the 2nd stanza in some sort of hoped for verification (or not) of what we were hearing, followed by approving laughter and incredulous looks as our eyes followed the teetering vocalist when he passed by our seats. I am certain that I will always think of the subway crooner when I hear Rod Stewart sing those same lyrics, and I will smile with a fond memory of a great moment on the subway in NYC.

OK, back to the BBQ - The Whole Hog, Baby Back Ribs, Pulled Pork, Baked Beans, Sweet Coleslaw, Sour Coleslaw, Coleslaw with Jalapenos, Brownies, Watermelon, Root Beer Floats (notice they are all capitalized denoting their importance as part of the awesome block party!). At $8 a plate, with 5 adults and 2 toddlers and 1 infant, we were carefully picking through the list of BBQ Joints who were participating in the cook-off before a kind fellow handed us a FastPass. The FastPass was our ticket to BBQ Heaven, with a value of approximately $100. Basically, it was cash in the form of a card you hang around your neck so that you can show it to the vendor, and they punch a hole in it according to the value of your food, and abracadabra ANOTHER plate of delicious BBQ, beans and coleslaw. It was so much fun! And speaking of the whole hog, get a look at that 'whole hog' rubbed and ready to go in to the smoker. It was a bit freaky to be honest. Makinlee wondered where his ears were. I was just glad she didn't notice that his entire head was missing.

After this traumatic viewing of reality, I am now in denial and prefer to think of my pork ribs as some kind of vegetarian dish, not a recently butchered and spread pig coated with BBQ rub. I don't think eating ribs will ever be quite the same after seeing that huge hog split and spread and rubbed for our dining enjoyment.

I am not sure Kurt feels the same.

Elise and Ashley had the forethought to bring blankets, arrive early, and divide and conquer, so it was only a matter of minutes before we were comfortably set up in a grassy area near the BBQ vendors and beneath huge shading trees. We all headed to a prechosen vendor and returned with plates of food to share.The kids danced and we ate. The crowd grew and we ate. Clouds gathered and we ate. We ate and then we ate more. Life doesn't get much better than that, well, actually it did get better than that. After all that BBQ, the brownies arrived. And the root beer floats. Nirvana. Indigestion. BBQ Heaven.

Ashley and I spent Friday walking the Brooklyn Bridge, and dining at The Soda Shoppe for dinner - feel good food at its best. Macaroni and Cheese, Meatloaf, Chicken and Lime Soup, Pigs in a Blanket, Cherry Lime Rickey's, and Cupcakes. (notice the caps again) It was a fun little place and the food was good. Small, quiet, and a nice change from the craziness of what we typically think of as "New York".

I was able to see Kurt's office for the first time. WOW. I knew he looked over the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but I didn't realize that he LOOKS OVER THE STATUE OF LIBERTY AND ELLIS ISLAND. Pretty dang impressive. (If you are looking for those landmarks in the picture below, you will be unsuccessful, but please note the PILES of books - tax books no less - that he is using to draft and edit and redraft a document. Sheesh, he might as well be back in school; less money but same gig!)

Continuing on our backward trip, Thursday night I arrived in NYC from Boston via LimoLiner; Kurt, Ash and Makinlee met me at their favorite Thai restaurant, and it was delish too.

Basically, I ate my way through New York, and laughed and had a great time while engorging on thai food, pizza, meatloaf, french pastries, bbq everything, brownies, and more. It was a feast at every level. I am still feeling a bit stuffed and I have been home fo 12 hours. It's time to get to the gym....

Did I mention that Kurt bought French Pastries for us on Saturday morning? He did. They were delicious. I bought some almond croissants to take home to share with friends in Albuquerque. I can feel them on my thighs as I type. And there's the rub....

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