16 September 2014

Book Report: Eyes on Nature Dangerous Creatures

 A Book Report by Olivia Davis

I just read an awesome book called Dangerous Creatures.  I liked it a lot.  One thing I learned is animals are not always what they seem.

One animal I learned about was a tiger.  Tigers are one of the very few cats that like to swim. Their stripes help them blend in with their surroundings.  They are very good at sneaking up on their prey.

I also learned about anacondas, a very long snake.  The average anaconda is 20 feet and weighs about 500 pounds.  The largest anaconda found was 28 feet long and weighs an astounding 1,100 pounds.  This huge snake could swallow a jaguar - whole!  Now that is one huge snake!

Another animal I learned about was the poison dart frog, also known as the poison arrow frog.  The native people of South America use the venom of the poison arrow frog's skin on darts and arrowheads for hunting.  The poison arrow frog carries its tadpoles on its back to a nearby pool where they grow.  One way to tell a poison arrow frog apart from other frogs is to look at their bright colors.

If you want to learn more about animals, I suggest you read this book.

11 September 2014

NYC Day 13 - A Wrench in the Machine

Today, we are in charge of dinner.

We have been very fortunate that our generous hosts have been feeding us these past weeks.  They are very conscientious vegetarians, in that they have researched all the various nutrition involved in a vegetarian diet, and and happy to share what they know with us.

One of the side effects of this is that, even through all of this heat, we have been able to cope with general ease.  Yes, we sweat a lot, but there isn't that deep lethargy that comes with a heavy stomach.  We will definitely use many of the things we've learned when we finally get into our own place.

Another upshot of this is that we are thinking outside of the box (our box of meat) when it comes to cooking.

We decided to make pasta with pesto and other little tasty things.  So we found a local farmer's market, with a Trader Joe's nearby, and decided to head over.

As the crow flies, it was about 4 miles away, but as the train runs, it was 40 minutes, being as there was no direct route.

We all piled onto the L train, Nathan included, and ran over the Broadway Junction, where we caught the A train towards Manhattan.  We got off at Jay street in downtown Brooklyn, and split up with Nathan, who needed some time to write.

The girls and I confidently walked off in one direction, only to discover, five blocks later, we were going the wrong way.

So we turned around.

We walked back, past our station (hoping no one was in the same place to notice our mistake) and into the center of town, where there was a Greenmarket.

These Greenmarkets are all over NYC, and they happen every day of the week throughout the city (not usually in the same place every day).  Some of them are even year-round!  The best part is that they take Food Stamps/EBT, which we have, being poor graduate students, and you even get a little extra bonus to use for fresh fruits & vegetables.

This one was rather small, with only about 7 vendors, but I think it was because it was during the week, and toward the end of the season.

We bought plums, peaches, pears, tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash, and an heirloom orange strawberry tomato.  The girls picked the plums out themselves, and got to pay for it with the extra $2 coupons we had received.


Green Onions


Then we walked down the street to Trader Joe's, where we got the things we couldn't find at the Greenmarket.

On the way back to meet up with Nathan, I got a call from our broker.

The good news:  our application had been approved.

The bad news:  the landlord owned several buildings, and one of the units had had a fire.  The tenant who lived there had the option of moving to another open apartment that the landlord owned, and our apartment was one of her choices.

So we would have to wait until she decided which unit she wanted (there were several available in the building we had chosen), and we could take one of the remaining units.  She didn't have to take a decision until close of business Monday, which was our supposed move-in day, so we were either to wait or pick a different apartment.


I called Nathan and told him the news.  We decided to wait, but to see if there were any other apartments offered by the same broker firm (Bohemia Realty), just in case the first one fell through.  Maybe we would even see one we liked more.

We stood in line to get some pizza (from Mamma Mia's Pizza!), which Olivia, who does not like pizza as a rule, reluctantly ate.  For some reason, this pizza tasted different to her, and she was amazed that she actually liked it!  She likes New York pizza!!

We met up with Nathan and took the A train back to Broadway Junction, met up with the L train, and got off at DeKalb.

Nathan set to work looking at apartments, while I started dinner.  The day, which had started out cool, had become sweltering, and the west-facing wall of windows in the apartment were letting in the light and the heat.  Not the best time to cook!

We ate a yummy dinner of pasta and pesto, with fresh tomatoes and parsley, roasted brussels sprouts and vegetables, and salad, as well as some parmigiano cheese.

Nathan contacted our broker and set up some apartment showings for tomorrow at 2 PM.

We wrangled the girls into the hot hot bed.  Tomorrow will be cooler, so it will be better!  (fingers crossed!)

10 September 2014

NYC Day 12 - The Waiting Game

Today, we aren't looking for an apartment.

Yesterday, we found one that we liked and decided to put in an application for it.

This morning, we are slow risers, not getting out of the house until after 11 AM.  We take the L train into Manhattan and connect with the A train uptown, to go to the FedEx Kinkos and print out the application.  There is more paperwork to fill out to rent an apartment in New York than it takes to buy a house in another part of the country.

We finally get all the "i"s dotted and the "t"s crossed, and signed and scanned and sent in via email, when our broker calls and says she forgot to tell us about another form we needed to fill out.  So we went back in, downloaded it, printed it out, signed it, and then Nathan left for school, while I proceeded to send it as an email attachment on the slow computers at FedEx.  It took me about 20 minutes, and the girls had all lost their tempers (so had I!) by the time I was able to send it off.

We walked over to our favorite Whole Foods, which had become our regular stomping grounds, to eat some lunch.  The store was raising money for the "Whole Kids" Foundation, which was aiming to work with schools to establish gardens and salad bars in public schools, by selling "make your own" sandwiches.

They were offering seven (7!) different kinds of nut butters, including chocolate hazelnut and speculoos cookie (I had never heard of that before), and several jams/jellies, and even marshmallows!

The girls each picked her own toppings.

Here is Olivia:

Her sandwich consisted of:

-White Bread
-Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
-Black Cherry Preserves
and it had the crusts cut off.

Here is Elsie:

Her sandwich consisted of:

-White Bread
-Speculoos Cookie Butter
-Strawberry Jam
she kept her crusts on, but ended up not eating them.

We ate our lunch and then went through the store again, because I had forgotten to buy diapers (the reason I went in the first place).

About this time, our broker emailed to let me know that she didn't get that final form, because it had been sent improperly.  I had left the original file on the computer at Kinkos, and it had been deleted when I signed off of the computer, so I had a battle with my phone to figure out how to get the document to her.  I finally called Nathan, who had a break in class at that time, to ask him to access it and forward it along.

Afterwards, we went over to Central Park to find a new playground.  We had already explored two of them, and so we walked all the way across the park to another one.  

This one was tucked away on the southeast side, near 67th Street.  It didn't have much for the baby to do, but it did have a slide coming down the hill, made entirely of granite.

So we played there for a long time.

Photo Courtesy of YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VYPdypGB_Q 
Then we went home, catching the 6 train downtown at 68th street.  We transferred to the L, and got off at our house.

It was a pretty calm evening, and we are just waiting to see what transpires.  I hope everything goes well, but I have a peculiar sensation that there will be some sort of complication.  Who knows?

We shall see!

09 September 2014

NYC Day 11 - We Found a Place!

Today we are back in Inwood. 

We met up with a broker, who I found on the Bohemia Realty Group website (which my second cousin, Hannah, had recommended), and we found a few places in our budget in Inwood.
She responded promptly, and we had several places to see.

The first was 87 Post Avenue.

There were three units available, one each on the first, second, and fourth floors.  Two of them were identical, with three rooms (kitchen, living room, and bedroom - the bathroom doesn't count as a room), and the third (on the second floor) was a mirror image of the other two.  That one was our favorite, as it was not on the ground floor, but not too high, and it had a south-facing window in the living space, which is good for the winter months.

It wasn't too big, but it would fit us all.  And it was within our budget - $1550, heat and hot water included.

She had another property a few blocks south, which was bigger, and which had been recently remodeled to make it a 2-bedroom.  The landlord had made the original living room smaller, enlarging the entry to serve as a "living room," and the beautiful original inlay in the floor, such as the one pictured:

Photo courtesy of http://www.lakesidehardwoodflooring.com/
was not in line with the new walls.  Which grated my nerves.  The other finishes were nice, but I'm an old-fashioned girl in some respects, and I would have preferred an older look to a new polished one, especially is the new one isn't true to the original design.

But the bottom line was that is was too expensive - $1675, which is $25 more than our budget.  We could stretch to make it work, but then we wouldn't have any money for furniture.

We thanked our broker and walked toward Fort Tryon Park, which was only a block away.  We decided that we would put an application in for the less expensive one bedroom on the second floor.  It was smaller, but it was the nicest of the three cheaper options, and we would have fun in a little space.

We called the broker and she sent us the application, and we started compiling all the necessary information, while the girls played at one of the neighborhood playgrounds.

We were excited, but a little nervous, because what if we weren't approved?!?  We wouldn't know until a few days after the application had been submitted.

We came back home to Brooklyn and rested.  It had been a productive day.

08 September 2014

NYC Day 10 - Bee Sting

This morning dawned beautiful and clear - the weather is glorious today!

I found an apartment online for $1500 in Inwood (northernmost tip of Manhattan) the other day, but when I called, was told that we couldn't make an appointment until after 8 AM on Monday.  So this morning I woke up Nathan and he called.  We were then told to call back after 9 AM, so we got ready for the day and called again.  We were rerouted to several extensions until we reached a person, and she and I set up an appointment this morning for 11 AM.

We tumbled out the door and onto the L train, and connected at the last stop on the L - 8th Ave/14th Street with the A line.  We rode it all the way to its end, too, and rushed up those stairs to find the address.

I had searched out this one online, and ascertained the address.  It was a 5th floor walk-up, which meant lots of stairs, but also a nice view, and it was backed up right against the park.  Which meant trees!  I was very excited!

I remembered halfway to it that I had left the phone number for the building super at home.  So I called the management company and reconnected with the broker, who was relieved to hear from me.  She asked if we were on our way yet and I told her we were standing outside the building.  She said that when she had called the super to make the appointment, he told her the place had already been rented.

That is how I felt.

We walked down to the little playground we liked so well and looked at more postings.  Nathan made several calls and a few appointments, but all for the next day.

Then we decided to eat.

We walked through Fort Tryon Park

which looks rather flat but is really very hilly.  It was so beautiful, and we needed a good dose of nature.

We ended up at a little restaurant called New Leaf, which sounded quaint, but was really very expensive.

But we needed a treat after our Charlie Brown morning.

So we went in and ordered some tasty food.  Elsie couldn't believe it, she was so happy!

After we ate (outside under the trees), Elsie asked to go look at the herb garden.  We continued eating when we heard a blood-curdling (I'm not joking - it was so loud and screechy!) scream, and Elsie rushes over to me.  She had been stung by a yellowjacket on her thumb.

Poor bunny.

Nathan took her to calm down, and the few people in the restaurant asked what happened.  I told them, and they all commiserated.  A first sting is no fun!  One of the ladies - a true New Yorker, in her mid-70s - came over after Elsie had returned and gave me a $5 bill, asking me to go get some ice cream for her, since she had been so brave.  Which brought on a new wave of tears from Else-face.  But she was thankful.

We left with a bag of ice from the kitchen and a little box of pastries that we hadn't finished and walked through more beauty to the train station, taking the A line downtown to connect with L again, and dropping Nathan off at Juilliard along the way.

We stumbled home and went straight into our room for a nap.

Tonight is Baha'i Feast at the Baha'i Center in Manhattan.  I am looking forward to seeing the friends there, and making new ones.  Maybe we can get some ideas for places to live, since Inwood doesn't seem to be working out.  It's hard to know when to persevere and when to give up.  I feel such a connection to the area - with its access to beautiful parks and reasonably affordable rent - but nothing seems to be working out.

We shall see.


Feast was wonderful.  Afterwards, a friend took us to a gelato place, where they sculpt your flavors to look like flowers.  It was a good day.

Ambroggio (chocolate hazelnut) & pistachio rose.

07 September 2014

NYC Day 9 - A little break

This morning, Nathan and I decided that it would be best if we took a break in the apartment search.

We had been looking on all the apartment listing websites:  Craigslist, Pad Mapper, Naked Apartments, etc., and it seemed like nothing new had come up over the weekend.  Our hosts reminded us that many brokers and landlords are Jewish, and observe the Saturday Shabbat, so there wouldn't be much activity.

We decided to take our own little day of rest.

I wanted to go to one of the many Greenmarkets in the city - I will do an entire post about those soon - and we also needed to go to the grocery store.  We had consulted with our hosts in the morning and divided up the food duties, as well as consulted on several housekeeping points.

We were originally going to go to the Trader Joe's in Brooklyn, but instead chose to go to Manhattan instead, due to its proximity to the train.

We took the L into Manhattan and got off at Union Square.

We stopped at the grocery store here and got some lunch.  It had a cafe above the store, so we sat there and looked out at all the passers by.

The weather was gorgeous - a high of only 81! - and so there were lots of passers by.

We then decided that we would go down to the Staten Island Ferry for a little adventure.

We took the R train downtown, and then, once we were on, overheard that, due to weekend construction, it was going to be re-routed.  So we got off, and then walked upstairs with the stroller to connect to the J train.

While waiting for the J train, we realized we didn't know which side to take - we let two trains pass before we asked someone, and they said it was also rerouted, so we would have to change again to the 4 or 5 train at the next stop.

We saw that the 6 train (which is green on the map, like the 4 and 5) left from our station (Canal Street), and that it would be an easier transfer to 4 or 5, so we went back down the stairs to the R platform, down the line, and then up some different stairs to the 6 platform.

We caught the 6 to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall, which was the end of the line, disembarked, and then waited on that same platform for the 4 train.  Or maybe it was the 5.  By this time, we were a little frazzled.

We took that 4/5 train down to Bowling Green, and walked up the stairs into Battery Park, at the very southernmost tip of Manhattan.

The Staten Island Ferry is free, and runs every 30 minutes or so, at least on the weekends.  We told ourselves that we were doing a test run - after all, who doesn't want to live on an island? - to see if we might look for places there, by experiencing the commute.

We entered the station, which is large and beautiful, and immediately walked over to the windows to see the water.

Behind them, you can see the two ramps that connect to the ferry when it arrives.  The ferry soon came, and we all funneled onto it.  We went to the front, to see the waves, and we were very excited to see the Statue of Liberty.

It's there in the middle.  Elsie keeps calling it the Eiffel Tower, which is much easier to say, I think.  Maybe we will move to Paris next.

We rode past another Ferry:

and disembarked at Staten Island.  Usually, at least, in my memory, some people got off and others got on and the ferry would go back right away.  But everyone had to get off this time, so we sat in the terminal on Staten Island.  Nathan declared that the commute was right out.  Although it was beautiful as a treat, it would get rather tedious, especially the waiting for the boat part. 

On the way back, we passed a tug boat pushing a barge.  I have always liked tug boats.

Here is a picture of us on the Ferry:

Back in Manhattan, we got a treat for the girls at one of the many food trucks.

We took the 4 train back up to Union Square, where we passed a man selling bubble blowers.  That was some good fun:


Then we walked down to Trader Joes, where the line wrapped right around the store.  Nathan stood in line with the girls and the cart and I ran to and fro, finding groceries to buy.  It was a good system.

We took the L train home, and came in just in time for dinner.

Tomorrow, we are going up to Inwood to look at apartments.  Nathan says he will get up early, so we can leave at seven A.M., but we shall see.

06 September 2014

NYC Day 8 - SO HOT

Today was a hot mess.

And I mean that in the truest sense of the term.

Nathan was home and had no Juilliard obligations, so we decided to check out a few areas in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn, which is just south of where we are currently staying (Bushwick).  Bushwick is becoming gentrified, as the artists slowly take over, and Bed-Stuy is the next area in development.  So a lot of it is pricey, but there are a few places we saw that we could afford.

It was another hot day, but there was rain in the forecast, so we took two umbrellas with us, as we weren't sure how our day would go.  We were met outside by an oppressive humidity - the heat index was over 100 degrees.

Out first appointment was at 12:30.  We got to the neighborhood around noon (we took the L to the J to the J again (it was running express and passed our stop)), and walked a few blocks south.  We found the house and decided to look around for a park - there was one only a block away, and so the girls played there in the water while Nathan and I sat in the shade on the bench and discussed the area.

The apartment was listed for $1850, and the photos online showed nice modern finishes.  We had recently reduced our budget from $1850 to $1650, because we had forgotten to figure in utilities, and $1850 plus utilities would bring us to about $2000 a month.  But what if we liked this place?  We went back and forth, and I remembered that there was an apartment around the corner with newer updates as well listed for $1600.  We decided to go ahead and see the place anyway, just to see.

We walked over at 12:30 and the door was ajar.  I sent a text to the broker (who had listed it as no-fee), and got no response, so we went inside.  Several workers were busy painting and repairing the apartments, and told us to come and see them.  So we peeked inside.  Aside from the modern grey paint color, nothing was really new about the places, and the kitchen in the photo on craigslist didn't exist.

Nathan chatted with the workers, and got the low-down, saying that the company was okay, the broker was actually a fee broker, and that the apartments weren't worth more than $1400.

We hadn't heard from the broker yet, so we just left.  He texted later saying he was stuck in traffic, and had asked the super of the building to show us the places.  We said no, thanks.

We waited in the hot sun for a while at the bus stop, grabbed some lunch from a local cafe, and then realized we were at the wrong bus stop.  We walked down to the shade and ate, and then caught the correct bus to the next place.

We didn't have an appointment, but wanted to see the area while we were close.  It looked a little desolate, which was of course amplified by the midday heat, and there were no parks nearby.

I have learned quickly that a good park is a precious thing in the concrete labyrinth that is New York.

We caught the C train here, and transferred to the L train, and got off at our stop.  It was baking hot, but we ducked into the local grocery to pick up a few things for lunch.

It never rained.

We spent the rest of the day in the relative cool of the apartment, hemming and hawing about our next step.  We liked the first neighborhood we had seen, but the price was too high for a place we didn't like.  Also, I still felt a connection with Inwood, in northern Manhattan.  I think it was the trees.

We decided to go up to Inwood the next day and check out places together.  If we couldn't find anything there, then we would just let it go.

Tomorrow is another day.

05 September 2014

NYC Day 7 - We Ended Up at Central Park

Admission:  I am writing this two days after it happened, and I can't even remember what we did in the morning...

It's that kind of crazy.

I think we had two appointments in Bed-Stuy, but both of them rescheduled to the weekend.  So we went into Manhattan with Nathan.  And ate lunch at the grocery store.

BUT!  I do know we ended up at Central Park.

Olivia saw a downy woodpecker.  You can just make out its silhouette on the tree, up by the leaves.

We decided to make it a project to visit every playground in Central Park.  We had already played in the one by Columbus Circle, at the southwest corner of the park.  This time, we chose the next one up on the west side of the park.

There was an older kids playground and one for little kids.  After playing in the big kid park for a while, we switched to the smaller one, so Eleanor could walk around without fear of being squashed by running children.

Eleanor thinks she is a climber:

On hot days (which seems to be all of the days since we've been here, the parks turn on their water features.  The baby park had two poles which created a lovely mist for the babies.

I think the girls enjoyed the baby park more than the other one - the energy was less frenetic.

The only hitch was on the way home.  Something about the craziness of New York sets me on edge, and my temper is much shorter.  I am working on it, but poor Elsie sure got an earful on the way home.  And had the temper fit to match.

It is Nathan's last day of orientation, so he should be home around midnight.

This weekend, we are going to try to see some more apartments together, and pinpoint some neighborhoods.

04 September 2014

Olivia's 3rd Grade Homeschool Plan

MON:  Grammar, Math, Reading, Art, Lunch, Recess, Field Trip, Snack

TUES:  State Study (Geography), Reading, Art, Math, Lunch, Recess, Science, Snack

WED:  Morning Music, Art, Vocabulary, Reading, Field Trip, Lunch, Snack

THURS:  Math, Art, Reading, Free Time, Lunch, Recess, Snack

FRI:  Art, Music, Math, Vocabulary, Lunch, Recess, Snack

SAT:  FREE TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SUN:  WEEKEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Elsie's Kindergarten Homeschool Plan

First, is wear whatever I want to wear, and then color, eat snack, and go outside.

NYC Day 6 - Personal Day

The chaos of New York has gotten to me.

We are staying in Bushwick, in Brooklyn, and, after yesterday's long trip, I chose to stay near home today.  We didn't even venture out until late afternoon, to get some bubble tea.

This morning I rested and rehydrated.  I'm still feeling a little bit of vertigo, but only occasionally, and I think it might have to do with my sinuses.  I needed a day of energy restoration.

So, basically, I'm down in the dumps.

I even turned down a showing of an apartment in Bushwick today because I didn't think I could handle it.  Emotionally or physically.  It was a 30 minute train ride, and the girls were fussy and I was fussy and I didn't know the neighborhood.

So I postponed it until tomorrow.  Nathan can come with me then, I think.

Also, I was able to check out the neighborhood a little in advance, thanks to Google maps.  It looks, as my host A says, "a little sketchy."

I had also planned to start working on homeschool today, but I needed a rest.  It's surreal, being in a place under the radar, and not having the girls be in school.  I could justify it prior to Labor Day, but now I'm running out of excuses.  Except that I'm tired.

I took a walk with the girls this afternoon, to get Eleanor to take a nap (she had resisted one all day), and to try a new bubble tea place that A had suggested.  We walked down Wyckoff, past old men sitting on chairs by the corners, past mothers like me, with strollers and children, and past young, single folks, who were in the most hurry to get anywhere.

I think that's when the exhaustion hit.  I didn't want to live in a place that was so draining.  Too much hustle and bustle.  Too many buses, cars, trains.  I wanted to be in a quiet corner somewhere, near trees and a river.  Even inside, there is constant movement and thought - mamas putting babies down for naps, cooking, cleaning.  The dirt here is endless, and so is the cleaning.  Nathan mentioned this morning that it was good that we were so clean (we are trying to be good guests), because if we continued our habits from before, the roaches would come.

I think this weekend we will check out New Jersey.  But I am not sure.  I am still thinking of that little park up in Inwood.


It's a little later on, after dinner, and while daddy J gets little P ready for bed, the girls are passing the time waiting for their turn in the shower by planning their homeschool curriculum.  Olivia is writing out her schedule, and Elsie is drawing a picture of all the things she wants to do.

Nathan won't be home until 11 or so from his orientation, but we had a nice dinner here, and then the kids played musical clean-up with J, while mama A and I cleared the table.  Then J played with all the kids, pretending to be a guitar player, and then a guitar.

It is good to have good friends.

03 September 2014

NYC Day 5 - I Don't Even Know What to Say...

This morning, I started out with confidence.

We woke up with Nathan, who had a later start for his orientation today, and, after J had left for work and A had taken P to a playdate, we prepared for our big day.  I packed diapers, baby supplies, and bottles of water.  Nathan gathered his supplies, and we off we went.

We took the L train at Jefferson into Manhattan, and transferred to the 1 train at 6th/14th street.

mural in the train station at the Lincoln Center stop
We all got off at the Lincoln Center stop, and the girls got the see the outside of Juilliard, at least.  We were planning to go in, but Elsie, in particular, was so whiny, that I decided to take the girls to get something to eat, and then head up to Inwood.  We had two appointments there in the afternoon/evening, and I wanted to walk around and get a feel for the place.

We stopped in a "public space" - which was an indoor seating area that had maybe once been a restaurant, but was now open to everyone to stop in and sit.  I looked at my little list of potential places, and followed up with a call I had made the day before.  I was able to see a place in Inwood, at the very tippy top of Manhattan (207th Street) at 1:45.  It was 1 PM.

The girls and I hustled out of there, grabbed some nuts from a street vendor, and caught the 1 train uptown.  The trip took about 35 minutes, and, by then, the train had come out from underground.  We got off at the 207th street stop, almost the last 1 line stop in Manhattan before the train crossed the river into the Bronx.

We walked past street vendors and dollar shops, selling $2 tank tops and $1 flip flops until we came to Vermilyea Avenue.  We walked 1 block north and stopped at the apartment.  It was the same girl we had met a few days before, when we were last in the Washington Heights/Inwood area.  She showed us the place, on the first floor, which was renting for $1625.  It had two large bedrooms but no living space, and very little light.  I told her I'd let her know.

We then decided to walk around for a while.  The girls were hot, so we ducked into a variety store, which was selling clothing and bedding, from what we saw.  We were in search of sunhats for the girls, but we came up emptyhanded.  We did, however, stumble upon these special shirts:

Which, as Elsie said, "came with breasts."  When I asked the girls what kind of clothing they thought it was, Olivia decided it was a tunic.

We walked a little further south, to Dyckman, and passed a grocery with large quantities of rice:
By then, it was 2:30 PM.  We stopped at a Starbucks near the Dyckman A train stop to figure out what to do next.  The girls and I had some lunch, and rested and cooled off, and used the restroom.  We decided to walk around a little bit more before our 4:30 appointment.

We found a great little park on the southeast corner of the larger Inwood Park, and all three girls played and played.

My phone was almost out of batteries, so we walked back toward the Dyckman stop, and stopped at a little coffeehouse.  Which, once we were inside, turned out to also be a restaurant, so we sat down and I charged my phone while drinking some hot mint tea.  Elsie and Olivia had a croissant and danish, respectively.

It was getting close to 4:30, so I sent a text message to the broker I was planning to meet, and waited for a response.  Around 4:45, he got back to me, saying he had just gotten home to Queens from Inwood, and could we try again tomorrow?  I reminded him that he had made the appointment, and that I couldn't do tomorrow (we had thought about going to see places in Jersey City), but I would let him know if maybe Friday might work.  I then asked if he could give me approximate areas for places, so that I could at least walk around the area while I was there.  He didn't respond.

I was pretty down at this time - I had really liked the neighborhood and the park, and the old men sitting on benches who spoke to the girls in Spanish.  The little trendy restaurants were nice as well, but I really had enjoyed the big park with the big trees.

Around 5 PM, we got back on the train, this time the A line, to get to our next place.  We alighted at the 181st stop, and walked out into a bright station.  We rode a very long escalator up to the street level and looked around.  The neighborhood was very cute - not too kinetic and not too quiet - a good mix.  We walked down the hill and I realised that the address we had - Cabrini at 181st - was very close to the Hudson River.  We could see the bridge!

This one was listed as a 6th floor walk-up for $1250.  1200 square feet, living and dining room, and two bedrooms, with three exposures.  It was also listed "as-is," which meant not renovated, but it sounded like it had some potential.  I was very curious!

However, the more I walked around, the more I suspected that maybe this listing was a hoax.  Up on Cabrini drive, there were three or four "Castle Towers," with a private park, and doormen.  And parents coming down the hill bringing their children home from the Montessori School, with names like "Grass" and "Whisper."  (not really)

I had only had one email from this broker/landlord and he hadn't given me a phone number, so I emailed him again to let him know we would be waiting at the corner.  But 6:15 passed, and the girls were restless, so we stopped in another Starbucks to charge the phone and have a snack.

The longer the time passed, the sadder I felt.  I really liked the neighborhood - it was full of diverse families (granted, many with humungous incomes), but also many "normal" people, hanging out.  There was still the man on the corner (I think every neighborhood in New York has a man sitting on the corner), and kids playing in the streets, and moms hurrying by with strollers.

So, basically, I got stood up.  Twice.

I headed back downtown (we got to go down that long escalator):

and stopped at Columbus Circle (where I knew there was a grocery store and a clothing store), to get some clothes for the girls and pick up some groceries.  By the time we were all finished, it was after 9 PM.  I was feeling lightheaded and had a little vertigo.  I was anxious because I was in the city with all three girls and I had to get them all the way back to Brooklyn in one piece.

We took the 1 train downtown to 14th street, where we connected to the L train.  In order to do this, we disembarked from the 1 train, and then walked up a flight of stairs (me carrying the stroller) to a lo-o-ong tunnel, which took us down to another set of stairs.  I was feeling really wretched by now, but I bopped the stroller down to the platform.  We were met by two trains, doors open, neither of which were moving.  Apparently there was some malfunction, and the conductor whom I asked had no idea when it would be resolved.  The heat was pretty intense by this time, so I decided to head back up the stairs and see if there was another way back.

I saw the orange trains headed to Brooklyn, and thought I could connect with the L and take it back toward Bushwick.  But to get to it, I had to go back down and then up a different set of stairs, and with the baby, stroller, groceries, and girls, I thought that maybe I could just wait for the L.  The trains finally moved, and we waited for a new one to come.  It was so full, and filling even more with the long queue of people waiting at our stop, that we waited for the next one.

I got a few sideways glances with the children on the train, and then I realised that it was after 10 PM on a school night, and I was out with three little kids, two of which were school aged, and one which was clearly a baby who needed to be asleep.

Our stop couldn't come too soon.

We got off, and came in, and showered and went to bed.  At least the girls did.  I drank a lot lot lot of water.  And sat in the air conditioning.  And watched a not tired baby run around.  It was almost midnight when I finally went to bed.

New York is exhausting.