The last couple of weeks were busy, hectic, and stressful ones for us. For me, mostly because of work and for Ben because of house renovation. He’s been doing the lion’s share of the work on that front. For Bandit, because, well, being a puppy is tough work.
We spent Christmas Eve frantically buying, loading, and driving materials at Home Depot to our house in Brooklyn. The house has constant surprises for us. A leaky roof here, a stolen water meter there, rotten floorboards, oh look, more rotten support beams . . . Ben
occasionally often despairs at this Sisyphusian task of fixing up this home. It was a long hard day.
Our new neighborhood is an interesting mix of Blacks of Caribbean descent and Orthodox Jews. People are quite friendly on our block and very helpful. Our next door neighbor, Sam, has been an absolute gem, from letting us use his electricity (we have none), lending us his tools, to driving his huge van so that we could load large beams. Our lives would have been much more difficult without his generosity.
We’ve become the block’s largest employer. Many of people in our neighborhood work in construction. Now that it’s winter, work is a little slow. They see our house and walk over and ask if we need X (cement worker, electrician, plumber, etc). The answer is almost always yes. We hired a handful of them to do work. The nice thing is that in the future, when I need a handyman to fix something, I know who to go to. Plus it’s been a good way to get to know our neighbors.
Between stress and dust allergies from the construction, I have been feeling slightly under the weather. Ben got sick too. So the two of us spent a quiet relaxing Christmas up in a “little” cottage in Westchester. My cousin lets us use the cottage whenever we want a get-away. It’s been lovely just napping, cooking, and eating for the past two days.
We let Bandit roam leashless while we’re up here. Bandit loves the open wide spaces where she romps around freely. She’s very careful not to go too far away from us. If we’re out of sight, she stops and waits for us to catch up before bolting ahead. When I play chase with her, she’s never goes beyond the edges of the lawn that we happen to be on (the property has several lawns and nothing more than a driveway or a row of small stones separates them).
Aside from cooking a ton (part of the reason why Ben enjoys having these types of mini-vacations is that I’m much more inclined to cook than if I were at home), I’ve been eating this delicious strawberry shortcake from Susan Lawrence Gourmet Foods in Chappaqua. It’s airy, fluffy, delicate, and its sweetness comes from the strawberries and the whipped cream frosting. I really dig this cake. I wish I had taken a photo before I had cut a slice to show you how pretty it is. It reminds me very much of my absolute most favorite cake in the world, the strawberry cake from Phoenix Bakery in LA. It was the birthday cake I had every year as a kid. Although I’m a devoted devout chocoholic, it’s that strawberry cake that has my heart. If you’re in LA, go to Phoenix Bakery in Chinatown and get the cake. If you’re in Westchester, come up to Susan Lawrence.
Yesterday I got a nice short 4-mile trail run in Graham Hills Park. It’s a nice-sized park and has about 5 miles of trails (mostly for mountain bikers but hikers and runners use it too). I hadn’t ran in week because of all the work, so it was good to go out and stretch my legs. I love trail running. The hills were tough but I enjoy it. While I detest steep hills in road running, I don’t see hills the same way in trail running. It’s so much more fun. My pace was quite slow because of the hills and the technical nature of the trails. I’ll never become a good trail runner because I’m too clumsy. I can’t tell you the number of times I had a close call with eating dirt and leaves. Aside from a few mountain bikers at the beginning and some scattered hikes throughout the run, I was alone on the trails. I loved being out and alone with my own thoughts, and working through the tough footing and enjoying the scenery. Graham Park Hills is a good park for short trail runs.
Hope everyone is having a lovely holiday season.
Are the holidays a time when you need to be frantically getting stuff done? Or do you relax?
What kind of running have you been getting in?