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?
How convenient that your neighborhood is full of handymen of all sorts! It’s nice that you won’t have to frantically seach & hope you picked a good one if an urgent problem comes up in the future.
I like trail running, but I don’t do it very much. It’s a refreshing break from road running where I tend to focus on my pace more than I should. I kind of feel like a kid running “just because” when I’m on a trail 🙂
Trail running feels more like playing, in part because I run so much slower. But I’m working pretty hard going up the hills.
I confess to having to look up the word sisiphean!!
I love trails too, that spot looks just divine, what a joy that must have been.
I bet that cake made you both feel a heap better!!
I confess to looking up “sisiphean!” Thankyou, my vocab is 1 word bigger.
That trail looks divine, I bet that was a joy to run.
I am sure that strawberry cake has cured you both of absolutely any ailments.
Got both your comments. The blog is set up so that I screen the comments of all first time commenters and after that, you can comment away without getting screened first.
Ben’s been too sick until today to eat any, so I’ve been (not so sadly) enjoying it on my own.
Good luck with your home repair work. We have an old house and there always seems to be something for my husband to work on. Getting out on the trails must have felt wonderful! We are training for the Houston Rhythm and Blues Half Marathon in February so we are getting in quite a few miles these days but right now it’s all on the roads.
We have been lucky to have had a relaxing holiday. Hope you get more relaxing in!
Houston Rhythm & Blues Half sounds like a lot of fun. I love live bands out on a course.
We’re getting tons of relaxing in. We decided to stay an extra day at the cottage so we could nap even more. haha
A stolen water meter? Good luck with all of your home repairs/renos! This winter has been so mild compared to last year so I’ve been running a lot more. Nothing like that trail you ran on though. Sounds like fun! That strawberry cake looks delicious!
The cake was incredible. It was even better when we used it to top pancakes. Pancakes + strawberry shortcake = double stack of happiness.
The polar vortex is coming, so it’s getting COLD!!!
The house sounds like the quite the project! I’m sure it will be amazing when you’re all done. Just keep breathing until then! And I’m with you on trail running–I enjoy it but I’m WAY too clumsy to be any good at it. I’ve written this before, but Phil jokes that I swim like a fish…and hike like a fish. It ain’t pretty!
Haha! You and I would be quite a sight on a trail. I trip over myself all the time. A friend once marveled that she didn’t know how I remained standing after seeing me kick myself so many times.
The house is a lot of work. I’m sure one day we’ll think of it as a labor of love. Right now it’s just labor.