June is Bustin’ Out

Sitting in Shanghai Pudong airport before our flight
New York City bound!

When my wife said her company had to send her to New York to get some documents for her visa, there was no way I was going to miss that trip!

We landed at JFK on a Friday night and took a cab to a hotel in Midtown East. It was eerily quiet the next morning as we walked around our old office neighborhoods, and we had a comfortable brunch at one of those large places that are full of besuited businessfolk during the week, and took our pictures in a wide and empty Fifth Avenue, under a clear, blue sky.

We took the subway downtown and met some friends, wandering the streets with them and stopping in a bookstore to browse away the afternoon. In the evening, after we’d checked out of the hotel, we took a cab to my brother’s apartment uptown, where my mother and sister met us for dinner, and then we drove home with Mom to stay at her place a few days.

Happy Father’s Day!

Sunday was Father’s Day, and we spent it grilling out with Dad. 🙂

We took the train into the city on Monday and Tuesday, and went from one office to another to get X’s documents. She needed things from university as well as a “clean record” statement from the NYPD, as China requires for foreigners seeking work visas. The weather was absolutely perfect for June in New York City, as we walked the streets where we lived just a year ago, and which we had come to love.

Back in Prospect Park

Leaving our suitcase at Mom’s, we moved back into the city and stayed at two very cool hotels that X found, one in Manhattan, and one in Brooklyn, and spent our days in coffeeshops and our nights in restaurants with friends. We ate pink gelato by the azaleas outside the New York Public Library, and watched the people flocking by.

Saturday was the real coup, for me. This short, idyllic trip was already a perfect “vacation back home”, but it was also in tune with the touring Dead & Company, who were playing Citi Field that night. I was grateful for the friends who had already secured tickets and arranged travel, and all the sunny day I felt the incredible vibe of the Grateful Dead are coming to New York City and I am HERE to be part of it!

After the show, the fun continued, because Sunday was Mom’s birthday! Some of her sisters came over for the day and we all celebrated together. I am truly so lucky for the family that I have. They bring me such joy.

My wife, mother, and aunt, in front of the house
Lakeview Drive

I spent most of Monday outside Mom’s house doing yardwork. The huge hedge out front was well overgrown and spilling out every which way. I needed a step-ladder to reach the top of it. Vines were growing up the electric wire and I carefully cut them all off.

Mom’s neighbor was out, and she and I talked for awhile about the history of the street and the people who had come and gone. This women herself was preparing to move out – after having lived in her house over 50 years – to an assisted-living type of situation. It was her own choice, she said. She’d lived alone long enough, over a decade since her husband had died, and she preferred to join a community where she had friends, and would surely make others, and would have a staff at hand to help her through the day, and to be there in case anything should happen. We shared a few laughs together about this and that, and she thanked me for cleaning up the brush, and went back inside.

I piled the vines and branches in the backyard and explored a little further. The path is obscured now by a large fallen tree, but Mom said it had been possible to walk all the way back, down to a little stream. I started to cut away some of the overgrowth along the path, and I was able to climb over the tree, so I kept on and cleared the brush further, moving down a small slope to where I could hear the water burbling softly. Access to the stream itself was mostly blocked by large bushes at this point, but there was one small clearing, and I ventured closer. I could now see the water, but I could not walk closer than ten feet to it. Considering how I could advance, I looked up, and there, across the narrow stream, was a large doe, staring right at me, chewing her food. I froze.

We were eye to eye for ten seconds or more, as I went from startled panic, to swallowing my heartbeat, to realizing that my phone was back in the house (no photo!). She bent her head to the ground, coming up with another mouthful of veggies. Although most of her body was hidden in the foliage, her full head and neck were exposed, and she was close enough to see the ripple of her shoulder muscle, and the fine, white-tipped hairs of her ears. She was magnificent, and after another moment, she gracefully disappeared into the woods behind her.

Burma

Last fall when I visited the Wrisleys in Thailand, Jarrett and I flew to Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) for the weekend.

Although it was a short time in a single place, we met a lot of people and saw some very cool things in the city. Most impressive was surely the Shwedagon Pagoda, a giant golden dome at the center of the city and an important holy site for Burmese Buddhists.

Shwedagon Pagoda
Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar

See my album of photos after the jump…

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