The 4th of July

I spent the 4th of July in the city, NYC, we usually spend it family-style, which we did, but we did that on July 3, which was unfortunate, because it rained all day on July 3, but the 4th was perfect. It was 75 and sunny all day.

Every year, for some reason, we do the 4th on the 3rd or 2nd or something like that. So a bunch of us drove out to my cousins’ house (n the rain) in The Hamptons on Saturday, July 3rd, but about 20 of us ended up just hanging out inside the house. I usually sleep over and spend the weekend but some of us drove back to the city that night and then enjoyed the beautiful July 4th in the city.

As is the case often, a couple of us headed to Coney Island, we were late for the Hot Dog Eating Contest, but it was still very fun and enjoyable. From there we stopped at Prospect Park in Brooklyn and then Washington Square Park in Manhattan.

Everywhere was packed, there was lots of music and lots of happy people. People have been longing to get out for so long. In New York, street musicians, or I should say park musicians are a big part of life. It was so great hearing them and then hearing loud applause, which never happens, but everyone is so happy this year.

Back home in Miami, they are facing a Tropical storm, but I think it is bypassing my area. So I’m not that concerned.

July 4th ended with a hug fireworks show in the East River and New Jersey had one in the Hudson River, so the city was surrounded with it.

One things that bugs me is that people in NY say, “Have a happy holiday!” Rather than “Happy July 4th!” Since when is the country’s birthday a politically correct thing? I gave money to a guy on the street and he said, “Thank you, happy holiday.”

Anyway, it ended up being a perfect day, after a soggy time the day before.

Now – the fireworks – the best part. Not so much the fireworks themselves, although, they are fantastic, but it’s the ritual before and after that I love.

About a half hour, maybe 45 minutes before the fireworks, people start showing up at the rivers. They walk to the east and west sides as close to the water as possible – that is where the fireworks are. Soon there are tens of thousands of people, all over the place. The streets are closed, there are cops all over and it’s a big party.

I ended up at the UN area this year. Other years I’ve been in other areas. I was right across from the big red Pepsi sign on the Manhattan side from Long Island City.

And then the fireworks start. But wait. When it’s done – all these thousands of people have to leave. And therein lies the fun. Thousands of people start walking up the streets, in an orderly fashion. Thousands of people! They are walking sort of like zombies – determined, yet slowly.

As they reach the Avenues, cars are trying to drive, but they can’t. :People just keep walking. And there are bicycles, mopeds, scooter and rickshaws in the crowd. Thousands of these people moving methodically across the city. It takes a long time, maybe an hour for this to end. And it’s something to see. It’s unreal to see. It’s so calm and methodical and everyone is in a cheerful mood., It’s a great thing to partake in, if you ever get the chance.

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New York Summer

Manhattanhenge

I’ve been in New York. Did a lot so far in a week. The worst part was the flight. From the time I left my house until I got to the door here in NY, it took 10 hours. The flight was delayed and then we didn’t have a pilot! We literally sat on the plane for an hour waiting for him to arrive!

But I’m here and all is well.

Hamptons eats


Been to The Hamptons with my family and friends, we were at an outdoor bar listening to one of my cousins perform., He’s an entertainer and he was doing his thing out at the waterfront. It was a perfect day.

Did a bunch of other things – ate at one of our favorite Italian restaurants in Brooklyn. Did Hoboken and saw Manhattanhenge.

Little Island

On Wednesday, a friend and I did the Little Island. It was beautiful and a lot of fun, but the temperature was 96 degrees with a heat index of 105 degrees. Oppressive! I even passed up Mr. Softee – I was too nauseous to eat.

A perfect egg cream



Thursday a friend and I did the MET Museum. It rained all day, so that was a good indoor thing to do.

Been to diners, had an egg cream. Did all my usual stuff.

The MET
Walk like an Egyptian – The MET

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Birthdays, kayaks and getting back to normal

For the past week my life has been kayaks and birthday lunches.

I’ve never been one for birthdays, I don’t see any reason to celebrate getting older, and of course my mother always cries when I say that and she thinks I wish I never was born, which of course is not the case. I just don’t like to make a fuss over it.

So usually my birthday comes and goes and my family does something, usually a cake on pizza night or something, but I guess because of the pandemic coming to an end, people want to get out, so I’ve been having lunches almost daily with different people, who are asking to take me out for my birthday, which was almost a week ago – yet the lunches keep going on and I’m loving it. I have a lot of Gemini friends, so there are lots of other birthdays during this period, so we have been celebrating those, too. So it’s been one big Gemini party lately.

For years I went out to lunch almost daily with different friends, and family, on different days and it was just the norm, but over time it seemed to stop, but it’s back and I’m loving it.

One of the local restaurant owners saw me on the street and started complaining about the fate of restaurants these days and he said I look so relaxed and happy and don’t have a wrinkle on my face, which he meant as a put down, but of course, I took it as a compliment, especially on my birthday, the day he actually said that to me. I had to remind him that the pandemic affected everyone, not just him.

As for the kayak/canoe saga, my kayak friend traded in that blow-up thing for an actual canoe. He had some guy with a trailer bring it over to my house to store here so we can easily take it out on the water, but haven’t yet. The bay has been choppy, maybe due that big beautiful full moon. Did you see it?

He came over to try it out, to see if it worked in the water without any leaks. It’s an old, ugly canoe, and therein lies the rub. One of my neighbors objected to it being on the property. “I’m trying to make the place look nice and you have that piece of crap hanging on the wall?” He offered to buy a nice new wooden one for us all to use, something he called “Hamptons-style.”

So I told him to just wait it out, my friend will get bored and get rid of the canoe, although he didn’t take it well when I told him it had to go.

I normally would fight it and say that I live here too, I have rights. But the thing is ugly, it is not going to be used, and my neighbor always does things for me – like buy me a brand new canoe, which I am going to decline. It makes no sense for him to do that.

So between that and lunches with friends (he was one of them that took me out), that’s what’s been going on around here. Business has been picking up, so that’s great and I’m getting ready for summer travel, so that is great, too. Little by little things are returning to normal, let’s hope they stay that way.

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Our kayaking misadventure

So things are slowly getting back to normal. I actually did some physical activity yesterday. It’s been so long! And the good part is that today I don’t feel achy or any pains, so my muscle memory is working.

What we did was go kayaking, but only for a short time That’s me rowing at left and that’s a blow up kayak, which looks more like a moccasin/shoe.

My friend Jorge came over with a new kayak – a blow-up kayak! I told him we had regular kayaks here at the building that we could use, but he insisted on purchasing a rubber blow-up one. So he brought it over and while I didn’t want to go out in that thing, I thought, “Let’s see what happens.”

I live on the bay so it only made sense for him to bring it over so we could launch from here and he could just leave it here for convenience if he likes.

I know Jorge almost all of my life, so it was just another day; another adventure for us to add to our hundreds, if not thousands of adventures we’ve had in our lives together.

It took awhile to blow up the thing. Maybe an hour! Eventually one of my neighbors brought down an electric pump and showed us an easy way to do it, so that made that part easy. Another neighbor brought me sunscreen and insisted I use it, so it ended up being a nice day.

We finally got the thing into the water and really didn’t get the results we had hoped for. As I suspected, it was ricikty and flimsy and unstable. He packed some sort of lunch and drinks and stuff and that thing made the kayak even heavier, plus we had all sort of supplies – life jackets, oars and other things.

We got out into the bay and paddled around a bit, but it was rocking and jiggling and wouldn’t steer right, it kept turning in circles. It was not was was expected – from him anyway. Me, I sort of predicted this.

What I didn’t predict was that I would get seasick. I’ve lived around the water my whole life and only got seasick twice – this time and once on a Key West snorkeling trip.

Anyway, after about 20 minutes of “boating” and an hour or more of setting it all up, we decided to head back and get out. And just as we got to the home docks, I got seasick and started throwing up. Not good.

I almost jumped out and swam to shore, but we made it in properly as many of my neighbors stared from out back, where some were in the pool, others sunning themselves and others getting ready to boat. For a small building, it seems like everyone was out!

I came upstairs and it seems like I fell asleep for a long time while Jorge got everything back together. When he came upstairs two hours had passed! I could have sworn it was half an hour!

We ended up going to a local place to eat lunch, but I was still feeling unwell, so I didn’t eat anything, I took it home with me. He went home from the restaurant and after another hour or sleep or so I felt much better and I texted him and told him, “I had such a great day today!”

And I did, seasickness and all.

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No more touching

The pandemic will have us doing all sorts of new things; you know, changes in our behavior and customs.

I noticed yesterday that I automatically DIDN’T shake hands. And now that I think about it, I don’t shake anyone’s hand anymore. At the beginning of the pandemic, we had to think about it and then pull back, now it just comes naturally – don’t touch each other.

Yesterday, I was with a friend and he said, “Tom, this is so-and-so” and he introduced me to some new guy in town. I said, “Hi, nice to meet you,” and that was that. We were a few feet away, shaking distance, but neither of us attempted to shake hands. All three of us talked for about half an hour and then parted, but no one shook hands then either.

I think I mentioned this before – I don’t like to shake hands, although in the past I would do it, and I don’t like to hug or kiss, which in the past, I did. But I guess this is a thing of the past. No more of this touching each other when meeting and greeting.

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Kayaking (beaching and boarding)

One of my friends bought a new kayak. It’s a blow up one. I never saw one like that before. Seems like a rubber raft to me.

He is coming over this week and we are going kayaking. I live on the bay, so we’ll launch from out back.

I told him that we have a few kayaks in the backyard that belong to neighbors, and anyone can use them, but he insisted on buying his own. He didn’t actually buy it, he won a gift certificate from a sporting goods store and decided to get the kayak with the certificate.

I haven’t been kayaking in years. For so many years I was in the ocean or bay almost daily. I kayaked, paddle boarded, swam and just hung out at the beach. Even when I was younger and was supposed to be working, I would get home and my mother would say, “Why do you have a tan? I thought you were at work all day!”

Some days I would just go out to the beach, have lunch, and then get back to work, other days I would spend all day out there. But it was almost a daily thing for most of my life. I need to get back to that.

I took this picture today, it’s a still shot from a video I took of a guy paddling by early this morning.

I’m working on getting back in shape for the summer. Actually for the rest of my life. Hopefully this and all pandemics will be a thing of the past. This kayaking and eventually paddle boarding and swimming should get me back in shape. Time to lose the pandemic weight I gained.

Stay tuned!

This is one of my favorite comics I did in February.

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A good exhaustion

So my friend who visited from NY is on a plane on his way home as we speak. I miss him. But I’ll see him in a couple of months when I go to NY so that will be fun.

But let me tell you something. If you haven’t gotten back to your after-pandemic routine, you know – back to normal, you may be in for a rude awakening.

I like to think I am in good shape, but after not doing much for the past year and not going to the gym, let me tell you – I am beat after everything we’ve done. It’s almost as if I need a day off in between our outings.

He said to me yesterday that I seemed very low-key, not down, but very quiet, “low energy” are the words he used. He said I wasn’t like my usual lively self. He was right. I was exhausted from all the walking and site seeing and other things we did. We had a cool/cold winter here and now the heat and humidity is starting to kick in so that takes a lot out of you. And not having done much exercise or walking in the past year makes a difference when you walk nine miles a day in the heat and humidity!

But it feels good. It’s a good exhaustion, like when you do a hard day’s work and you feel you’ve accomplished something. That’s how I feel.

A visit to the zoo

I finally got the workout I have been looking for all year – I went to the zoo with a friend the other day.

We walked around in the sun and heat for five hours – that will give anyone a nice workout. We ended up walking miles! It felt good. According to an app on my phone, we walked 9 miles! Slowly and stopping a lot, of course, but still, 9 miles!

I could not move the next day. I hadn’t worked out so much in a year due to the pandemic. When I’m in NY, I have been known to walk 12 miles in a day, so I better work myself up for that for when I go this summer, otherwise I’ll be nursing sore muscles after one day out and about the city.

I have a friend in town from NY so we’ve been doing things, I’m not sure what possessed us to do Zoo Miami, but on that same day, one of my cousins announced that was her first day working at the Bronx Zoo, a lifelong dream of hers.

I got excited because I started watching all those behind the scenes zoo shows at the beginning of the pandemic. That was my Saturday nights and the Bronx Zoo episodes are my favorites of all of them. It’s very comforting, especially at the time of being locked inside for all those months.

There are zoos featured from all over – Tampa, England, Australia, Columbus, Ohio; North Carolina, etc. It’s amazing to see all the love and respect the animals are given by the caretakers. But my favorite is how they do it in the Boogie Down Bronx.

I have plans to visit the Bronx Zoo this summer – to not see the animals – but to see the human characters I see on the zoo tv shows!

Maine Cabin Masters

The Maine Cabin Masters

There is a tv show I’ve been watching a lot lately – Maine Cabin Masters. I’ve been binge watching it. I really like it.

It’s a group of old friends and some family members, who renovate old cabins for clients, which they call “camps,” in Maine. The cabins are on lakes or rivers. The main three are Chase, the boss; his sister Ashley and her husband Ryan. There are also Dixie, Jedi, and Lance, who was a great character on the show, who left in later seasons.

The scenery alone is worth viewing, so much of it seems to take place in the fall and the turning leaves are amazing. The show is fun because they all have a great rapport since they know each other all their lives and also, the renovation work is great, they take old worn out cabins and turn them into spectacular places. And three words really are the main/Maine reason to love it – “Maine,” “cabin,” and “lake.” Three perfect things.

There is one thing that bothers me though, and that’s the budget. Clients give them a long list of things to do which usually consists of fixing the whole foundation, replacing the roof, replacing the outside siding, replace the flooring, sometimes redo the inside stairs, add a new outside deck, add new windows, renovate and redo the kitchen and every single thing inside, including bringing electricity and running water into the place and oh yes, add a dock down on the lake and add steps down to it, also many times, trees, huge, tall trees, have to be cleared from part of the property – and do it all for $30,000!

The crew is about eight people and the supplies have to cost way more than $30,000. The roof alone is more than that. How much would the Property Brothers charge for this? $150,000 or more? I can’t figure out how they work for months, literally a couple of months on this one job and all split the $30,000 after paying for supplies.

Now I am guessing the producers of the show pay it all, but still it’s all unrealistic. Even if they are paying for most of the salaries and supplies, etc., why not give a realistic estimate and at the end of the show have a little blurb in the credits that says the production company paid for the job. Sort of like Judge Judy, where the people who lose the cases have their loss paid for by the production company.

Other than this one little thing, I love the show. It’s comforting to watch. The hour goes by quite quickly.