Guest Blog by Alexis Cole! Alexis Cole, best friend and next-door-neighbor, is my social opposite. I’m an introvert and homebody, and she’s an extravert and out there! Although she has a full-time position singing with the Jazz Knights at West Point, she’s always finding time to dash off to perform or attend events in NYC and all over our area. When she’s home in Peekskill, she’s out there, too. Last week she was around Peekskill, and her account of everything she did left me breathless. I told her she should write another I Love Peekskill guest blog. And she did!
I Love Peekskill Guest Blog – by Alexis Cole. So on Friday night Margaret told me she’d heard from a reader of her blog, Jennifer Jiles. Margaret said..."Peekskill just got a little wilder" and pointed me towards the video on her website of her one woman musical Kicking and Screaming, based on her time in the Rockettes. In the show Jennifer plays 21 different characters, while dancing and singing all original music. She said she was a fan of Margaret's blog, and loves Peekskill and invited Margaret to check out her ballet class which started this week at Energy Movement Center. I wrote back and told Margaret, " Wow! I'm exhausted just Watching that video!!! She's really great. I loved her Febreze commercial!!
And then I emailed Margaret about my night. "I had such a great Peekskill night! I tried Jin, the new Japanese-ish place, had miso soup, seaweed salad and a yummy spring roll, the kind with vermicelli and lettuce, basil and shrimp. Then used my free movie ticket I got from being a Paramount member, and went there to the see Detachment, which was really great and also kind of depressing. Then I walked over and saw the new Beale Street Barber Shop opening on May 5th on South St. and looked in the former Ciro's, soon to be flatbread pizza heaven, and then I stopped in at John Ford's and there was a little jam and hang with the sax player Charley Krachy. Then I got an ice cream (small) from Nellie's and ate it on the bench on the corner before coming home. Tomorrow there's Maureen Winzig's art studio anniversary party, and then April's party, then Steven Frieder is playing at Nellie's. Sunday night the big band is at 12 Grapes. So busy!!!"
Margaret wrote back and asked if I wanted to guest blog about my weekend, that it was almost written! I said sure, but wanted to wait until the weekend was done, so I could tell all about it!
So that was Friday, and then Saturday, I got woken up by a phone call from someone I'd emailed on Craigslist about an ottoman. They said they were in Newtown, CT and were at a warehouse that was open from 10-12 for me to look. I realized I had to get out of bed and on the road. It was a long drive, but I was rewarded by a super score, exactly the giant cream colored leather ottoman I was looking for to complete my living room, and at a great price, and from an organization that gives their earnings to the homeless and veterans. Then I got home, and Chris, the delivery young man (he's not a boy?) from La Villetta Pizza helped me bring it upstairs. Luckily there was no rain, as it was strapped uncovered on my compact's roof.
With the ottoman in place, I moved on to thinking about the next phase of my day, making something to bring to April DeMarco's birthday potluck. I was excited to use up the remaining few pounds of beets left from the sadly defunct Raw Life Food Co-op. When they were closing they asked all members to buy whatever we could to help pay off our debts. Those beets kept very well in my fridge drawer. I had massive quantity! I used my brand new Japanese Mandolin, a tool that Sturgess (my chef beau) has just introduced me to, and without which I'm not sure how I ever survived previously! I sliced the beets, plus some potatoes and apples and put them up to cook in my oven, and then took the excess to Margaret's oven. Thinking that they take many hours to cook, I then went over to Maureen Winzig's open studio party. The fête was highlighted by an informative discussion with Kathleen Talbot, one of our Peekskill City Councilwomen, about the upcoming tattoo shop hearings. I met a lot of great people, and saw friends...like any gathering in town. Maureen's work was great, she's always up there working away, and she's made a prolific quantity of new paintings in the year she's been up there.
Having a feeling like I'd left my cooking for long enough, I ran over to Margaret's to check on the beets, and some of them were kind of burnt, but most of them were ok. Knowing I'd put the ones in my oven up 15 minutes before hers I ran back next door to my place to see a sad sight of apples and potatoes lovingly placed on baking sheets and burnt to cinders. C'est La Vie, in the trash... the good news is, they don't take nearly as long as I thought to cook! I grabbed an exhausted Margaret, who'd just done 6 hours of magic at the WHUD Kids Fair, and we went over to April's lovely home just outside of town.
April, an incredible painter and jeweler herself, (http://www.DeMarcoStudios.com) had a number of interesting guests, designers, authors, healers, musicians, magicians (ok, that was us). It was a ladies only party, and I for one really enjoyed being in the company of exclusively women for a few hours. The food was great too, unfortunately mine was the third hummus, (the new pasta salad?) but everyone enjoyed the beet chips, even if they were a little burnt. April showed us her garden, which she's planting in wood pallets, to cut down on weeding, and create raised beds with less effort. She's the gentlewoman gardner if ever I saw one. Her husband made a roaring fire in the fire pit, and before the rain came, we managed to sit around outside for a few hours yakking. I love a fire! After the rain came, we settled into the living room, incidentally furnished just in time for the party, and Margaret did her 'Magic Spirit Messages' , where each person takes a blank paper, and the paper is then burnt and a message appears. Mine was 'you have a secret admirer'... Margaret and I were the last ones to leave, and it was great to get the late night hang with April on her birthday, to share a little special time, and get to know her better.
Despite (or perhaps from guilt of) all I'd consumed at the party, Sunday morning I got up and went for a run. There's a photo of a stoop with an accumulation of tree flower petals, I took on my run. That morning I discovered an easy way to get from my loft into Depew park, and ran on some of the wood chipped trails which I had not realized were even there! Margaret pointed out to me that the park connects to Blue Mountain Reservation! How that had eluded me, I don't know! Feeling like a champion from my run, I walked it the last block to my apt, and saw my friend in the window of Treat Station. I stopped in for some water (no ice cream) and to chat with him and his daughter. Amazed at my will power, I did not get my favorite chocolate covered pretzel, but was soooo good! While there, I got a call about another piece of Craigslist furniture (an ottoman for a papasan chair) also in CT. I didn't have any plans, so I said I'd drive over and get it now. With gas prices what they are, and Mapquest saying it takes the same amount of time if I take the highway, or the more direct back roads, I opted for the country roads. Westchester to New Cannan, I discovered, is a very moneyed area. For about an hour I drove and didn't see anything except mansion after mansion. There are so many beautifully restored old farm houses and estates, it was at once heart-warming and a little eerie, just the breadth of wealth sprawled out in front of me. I picked up my Craigslist papasan in one of these mansions. The matron of the house sold it to me for $30. I thought, 'this gal doesn't need my $30.' but I guess everyone's a little pinched in the recession and all... I did notice a lot of homes for sale. Driving in all this splendor really gave me perspective. I often feel a little guilty for the relative opulence that I live in, 1200 square feet just for myself, nice (mostly second hand) furniture, running hot water, a newish car, a housekeeper etc. But there's just levels, and everyone lives where they do. I don't feel upset at the people in those houses because they have more than I do, and I know it certainly is no correlation with happiness. One of the things I like so much about Peekskill is the way people of different backgrounds and disparate means are all intermingled without strife. I lived for a while in Coconut Grove, and there was a block beyond which all the poor people lived, in the poorest neighborhood in Miami, and on the other side were all tourists and moneyed people out for a good time. When people from the wrong side of town ended up on the 'right side,' the police would just bring them back to their side. It was so poor that there were barely any lights on at night, and everyone hung out outside because nobody had electricity. There doesn't seem to be that kind of striation in our neighborhood. Though, what do I know, I live on the nicest block in town, and I'm gonna try to try not to feel guilty about it.