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Kaiya – 5 years old – May 2010

When I moved into my apartment it was located in a “transitional” neighborhood.  There was a corner bodega with bullet proof glass that did a brisk drug business.  Empty lots dotted local blocks.   And shady looking kids hung out on the corner.  It’s  NOW a very desirable location.

If there was any doubt at all that my neighborhood has experienced full-out gentrification (actually, there was no doubt; it happened years ago), this latest experience sealed the deal.

Time: Evening dog walk (approximately 9:45 pm)

Place: 4th Ave in front of McDonald’s

Situation: A man in a suit is complaining to two police officers that he walked up to the McDonald’s drive through window and the man wouldn’t sell him two cheeseburgers.  AND THEN, apparently the McDonald’s’ employee said something like “you people”  which caused Mr. Suit to feel he was being discriminated against.

Charlie and I were extremely amused by the whole exchange but when a SECOND police car came screaming down 4th Ave., lights and sirens blaring, made a U-turn and pulled up on the sidewalk in front of Mickey D’s  I looked at Charlie and said “THIS is the biggest thing happening in the 78 precinct tonight?”

Apparently it was.

Since Mr. whiny suit wearing yuppie didn’t have a license plate nailed to his ass and the drive-through window guy didn’t want to serve him, Mr. wswy CALLED THE POLICE?  Really?  The police?   And they showed up at the scene of “the crime”.  We were amused for days.  I would have given the employee a frosty glare and gone home.   Damn entitled yuppies.

Another way to tell your neighborhood is too gentrified?  When your dog’s bed looks more comfortable than yours. Here is a sketch of Kaiya, our 5-year-old Akita/Shepherd/Lab(?) rescue on her new bed which is “paprika” and black. Paprika? You bet!  That’s what the catalog said and I’m sticking to it!   She’s about 95 lbs, and is a great dog, is very loving, except when those really yappy dogs start with her (I’m talking to YOU, Mango)  or when she meets another Alpha female.  Oy!

Could be worse.  I could be trying to get two cheeseburgers from the drive-thru at  Micky D’s without a car!

I woke up to this today:

I would have rather woken up to this:

This was the view from my room in St. Croix looking out onto the beach.   I love how there are always bent trees in the Caribbean.  I miss the warm weather and the beach.    Especially when today’s wardrobe included a fleece pullover, coat, scarf, gloves and hat.  Brrrrr!

Jim recently changed my tag on his blogroll.  It used to just say Carol King.  Now it says Carol King- artist, humorist, complainer.

Complainer indeed.  I prefer to think of it as social commentary.

But “complainer” works.

This is what I am going to comment (complain) about today.  The price of kids T-shirts in these small stores in Park Slope.  I wanted a size 4T shirt for a friend’s kid.  I thought I might get a nice little “Brooklyn” t-shirt.    I found one.  It was $24.00.  SERIOUSLY.  For a t-shirt that the kid will grow out of in a few months????  And end up in a stoop sale selling for 50 cents or a dollar.  A size 4T shirt is about 6″ across.  I’ve seen men’s handkerchiefs bigger than that.

I indignantly marched myself a few more blocks down the avenue to the next kid’s store only to discover that in this store the price of a kid’s t-shirt was $32.00 AND the collar was frayed.   On purpose.  WHAT?  I’m now ready to buy a white t-shirt and write on it with a Sharpie.  Are these people insane?  Who are their customers?  The stars that NAME their kids Brooklyn and Bronx?   Cause it can’t be the people LIVING in Brooklyn and The Bronx.

Only in NYC can people making $180,000 a year be considered middle income.

Charlie’s wife Liz told me she wanted to have a nice old fashioned Christmas and have everyone give a home-made gift.  Liz channels Martha Stewart and can make any dinner party elegant and wonderful.   Her friend to whom she made this suggestion countered with “how about an ‘As Seen On TV’ Christmas?”  Liz was outraged.  Charlie and I didn’t think it was a bad idea.   This did not go over well with Liz.

Ah, the holiday season is upon us and everyone is in a good mood.

Ho Ho Ho

White vase with apples 8-23-09

There is a playground & park not far from my house called J.J. Byrne Playground.   Not long ago a kid with a funny sense of humor and some spray paint changed the sign to read My Va J. J. Byrnes .  Every time I see this sign I laugh.

Va JJ Byrnes

The 5th Ave side of the park is a playground and then a grass field.  The Parks Dept. just redid the 4th Ave. side of the park which is a larger field now filled with astroturf.   During one of our evening dog walks as  Charlie and I were discussing the horrible astroturf he turned to me and said “do you think when the ants come over from the grass field they get to the astroturf and then look at each other and say “WTF???”

We are easily amused.

I went to painting class today and started the painting above.  I tried a wax resist technique that both Leslie and June talked about.  I didn’t use it all over, just in a few spots, particularly on the stripes of yellow green on the table cloth in the foreground.   So far so good, I think.  Whadda YOU think?

yellow flowers with red vase 6-28-09

Whilst walking the doggies yesterday evening my friend Charlie and I saw this written on the sidewalk in chalk:  “RECORDS FOR SALE This is a popular local way to advertise in the neighborhood when one is having a stoop sale.  (Yard sales or garage sales to most, but we in Park Slope usually have neither a garage nor a yard.  We do, however, have stoops.)   Charlie immediately looked at me and said he imagined someone selling personal records of people in the neighborhood.

Charlie: “Hey, they are selling my 1986 Con Ed Bills.  Look, the logo has changed.”

Carol: Laughed and laughed    And then my mind immediately imagined someone selling my old report cards,  files on my work history and all my pay stubs that are banded together in a drawer since the ’70’s.   (I have GOT to clean out that back room!)    I remember when my college friend and I got our first jobs.  I was making $12,000 a year which I thought was pretty good.  Then SHE got a job making $16,000 which I thought was a FORTUNE.  I was so jealous.   She was RICH!

I’ve been experimenting with some watercolors lately.   I thought I’d play with  a few different techniques.   The yellow flowers above are OK, but I really had a great time with a wet on wet technique on the vase.    I also did a beach scene while thinking that I would like to be back in Curacao than work on contracts for the City.  (Yes, I know you find this hard to believe, but it’s true!)

chopped beach  6-28-09

After I painted it, I wanted to try something a little more interesting so I cut it up and changed some of the image locations and then reglued them on another sheet of paper.     I also reworked the clouds by lifting up some of the top layer of paper with tape.   I am happy with the end result, but may reglue the strips slightly closer together.   Watch out,  I’m going crazy!   Next thing you know, I may be having a stoop sale selling my 1981 pay stubs for $2.00 a calendar year. Ok, I’ll take a dollar.  And I’ll throw in my College Diploma for an extra 50 cents.

ATM Grotto

Change is inevitable.

And as you get older you see more and more change. Some good, some bad. Some incomprehensible.

When I moved into my neighborhood there were bodegas on 5th Ave with bullet proof glass and guys playing dominoes all night long in the summer to the sounds of loud music. Crack was sold out of the apartment building a few doors down and sexual favors were sometimes performed in the lobby of a building a few doors up. But overall is was a nice block and as time marched on, the bullet proof glass enclosed bodegas moved out to make room for antique shops, restaurants, more restaurants and coffee houses. Apparently yuppies cannot get enough coffee.

Now gentrification is spreading to the outer reaches of the neighborhood to areas that I NEVER, EVER thought it would reach. What do I know? Recently, a car service store front closed, only to re-open as <shockingly> another coffee shop. This one is extra special because it has an ATM grotto. What is that you ask? I had no idea what it was either until I passed it one day. The alcove had been there for a few weeks and I wondered what would go in there. It looked like an alcove suitable for a statue of Mary, or perhaps a saint. Now there is an ATM there. I call it the ATM grotto. When I showed the picture to some of my friends, they all made the same comment…that people will be praying at the ATM that their card comes back out. Or their money comes out. Or they don’t get held up making a withdrawal. I guess the more things change, in some ways, the more things stay the same. Amen.

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