Friday, June 27, 2008

RIP -- Ayveq the Walrus, NY Aquarium

As my friend Stewart was driving on a errand last night, he casually mentioned that he heard Ayveq the walrus had died. He thought I had heard but I hadn't. You would think that working for 5 years with these animals for barely any salary would entitle me to a least a courtesy call, but I've learned not to expect it.

After calling some friends in the know, the officials aren't telling much of anything concerning Ayveq's death. A necropsy was of course performed, but any conclusions were not released. And since zoo animals aren't given graves or epitaths, I thought I'd do my best.

I first met Ayveq when he was about 4 or 5 years old and coming into his sexual maturity. To say it made for an interesting summer is of course an understatement. His antics at the discovery of his 5th appendage would make you chuckle if not outright laugh. Oh how do I even begin to explain this summer to you.

First, most people need a lesson on walrus anatomy. Males have a bone and it's 3 feet long. Although the bone makes for an interesting eskimo conversation piece, it makes for an even more interesting solitary sex life, especially in front of 6 year old humans. All of a sudden, you would see Ayvek stopping his swim around the enclosure, and then the magic whistle would begin. Eventually Ayvek would bound to the top of the pool, roll over on his back and you would see that 3 foot salami being held by those flippers.

Mark the keeper had to point out the magic whistle to me. I forget what we were doing together, but we heard the whistle and Mark said "alas, there he goes again". I even think Mark is the one who came up with the term magic whislte. Of course I needed a guy to point out the correlation to me (sometime I'm such a girl). And it's not like this was a quiet little tune either. I often would hear it while walking on the Coney Island Board Walk from more than a mile away. At least it always promised an interesting day for visitors.

That year Ayveq's favorite toy was a Fisher Price stearing wheel from some child's toy and he loved to hang it from that famouse 5th appendage. Eventually he just wore that steering wheel out and although they replaced it with similar toys, he never seemed to show the same fondness for any of them. He did grow out of the whistling phase over the next few years. He was always a crowd favorite and loved to interact with visitors at the underground window to his enclosure. He was also one of my favorites just because I loved to watch him move. I loved seeing the play of his hip bones as he manuvered on land and his good natured temperment which showed clearly on his face.

And despite maturing at the age of 4, it took him another 8-9 years before he finally managed to get a girl pregnant. At least we still have a little part of him left. And even though it's been years since I've seen him, I will always remember him and always miss him. I will tuck him into my heart with all the other unsung heros of my world. He is there with Kathy the Beluga and her son Casey. Osoy, the Chimpanzee and all the rest who's beauty only came briefly into my life. I've been so lucky and I promise never to forget.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Diner Party

I love to cook. I love to cook for friends and I have a hard time cooking for one. So now that my friend Emma is leaving us for foggier pastures (she's moving back to the UK) I have an excuse to throw a dinner party (sniff, good bye Emma).

Anyway, I love my menu. Just the right combo of vegitarian/omnivore, healthy/cardiac mix for the menu. Can I just brag a little bit....

Appetizers: Guacamole & Chips, Stuffed Dates - Okay, Guacamole made from scratch but the chips from Trader Joe's. The Stuffed Dates are so simple and delicious. Take the pit out of a date, fill it with cream cheese and then stuff a nut in it (perferably walnut, pecan or almond). It tastes better than it sounds.

Dinner: Empanadas Argetinas, Portabello Cheeseburgers, Roasted Carrots & Potatoes, Sesame Sugar Snap Peas, Guava Ketchup - Talk about all over the place, but such yummy simple foods. The most complicated are the empanadas. After being disappointed ordering them from a restaurant (Argentinians do not put tomatoe in their empanadas) I decided to make them myself (okay, so I bought the dough disks, but the insides are what count). How is it that so many people manage to ruin a dish with exactly 4 ingredients. Ground meat (I use turkey), sauteed onions, Yellow raisins (black raisins just don't taste the same, but i've been known to use them in a pinch) and a green olive (the pimento ones in a jar. I tried to substitute the fancy ones, but it didn't work). Okay, so if your a true purist your supposed to include a wedge of hard boiled egg, but I hate hard boiled eggs so I leave it out.

Dessert: Ghiradelli Brownies and fresh Strawberries with Eggcreams (which have no egg and no cream). How would one say goodbye to NY without an Eggcream toast.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Can't Just Give Things Away

Okay, I'm going to bitch because I just can't take it anymore. I'm not Miss Manners, but things have gotten so bad that I find myself telling people off for outrageous behavior. Is it too much to ask for people to use common sense. Then again, who was it that said Common Sense ain't so common.

I am one of those people who can never throw things out because one day there may be a use for it. Being a nature girl, I'm a strong believer in the reuse method of recycling. So, can you imagine how happy I was when i discovered Freecycle. A chance for me to get rid of things i no longer need while doing something good for somebody else. Awsome, right.

In theory, yes. In reality, you find out just how many stupid, ungrateful people really are out there. For instance, I offered a 32" free TV and posted a Must be Picked Up By dated... First you get the people who don't understand the word free. That means, I am not a sales person. That means, if you want it pick it up, not that you get to shop around and go for the best deal. I've gotten people questioning the size of the TV, why I want to give it away, will I send them a picture, how is the picture quality?

Let me reiterate. FREE means FREE. Did you never learn the saying "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth". That originated because if somebody is willing to give you a horse, don't start looking for something wrong with it. Be grateful you got something for nothing and move on.

So, you think I would learn. I guess not and I should put myself on the stupid list because despite all evidence to the contrary I tried it again with the TV stand. I put down the size of the table, gave a brief physical description, even remembered to say no pic, but do you think that would do? Of course not.

So, here I am rambling, and if this was the only problem in my life, I would be grateful right. I mean the garbage man isn't so picky. But no, I seem to be dealing with other rude people in a different matter.

I've spent the past several years hanging out with New York Outrigger Canoe Club. Even though I can't afford to join and I'm not allowed to paddle without joining, I've maintained my friendships and have spent a good portion of time trying to do good by them. Right now they are working on getting corporate sponsors for our big annual race, the Liberty World Challenge. They don't get it either.

They keep treating these corporate donations like little kids at Christmas. It seems impossible to get them to understand that these little "donations" aren't really donations at all but business deals.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Free Cycle

I love the concept of Free Cycle simply because I can be such a pack rat waiting to find a person who can use that exact item I just don't want anymore. Let's face it, most of my electronics come second or third hand. What I can't believe is how picky people are about free stuff.

My new roommate brought a TV with her and since my old TV has been failing for ages, I decided to find if somebody wanted to take it off my hands. You would not beleive the response:

"Please send pictures"

"Does it have a remote control"

"Can you hold onto it for another month when I get back to Brooklyn"

"Do you live in a building with an elevator?"

Common people, it's a free very large TV. Okay, so the colors off and it needs to be smacked around on occassion, but it's certainly good enough to watch DVDs on or find out the local weather.

Over Memorial day I posted a joke to Freecycle. I asked for a free cookout. Not a charcoal grill, but all the food (top quality of course) drinks, chairs, cooler and a frisbee. I said I'd pick up in the park or on the beach. The sad part is that some people didn't get the joke. I actually got an e-mail from a reporter wondering if they could report on my Freecycle experience with food. I obviously didn't hear back from them when i clued them in to the Sarcasm of the post.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hawaiian Flag Quilts

My friend Kathy looks like and Irish cop's daughter from Chicago with a temper to match. But her heart is in Kaui despite the fact she now lives in the big apple.

Ever since she learned I like to quilt she has done her best to teach me about Hawaiian Flag Quilts. Most quilting enthusiasts know about Hawaiian quilts which are these beautifully worked tone on tone needle turn applique pieces all about the natural elements found in the quilters environment. It almost looks like the quilter made a paper snowflake gone amok since they are both vertically and horizontally symetrical. These quilts are finished with the most intricate needle work. They are echo quilted (by hand) with no more than an gap of an inch between each line. This quilting technique was a kick in the pants to the missionaries that introduced quilting to the islands. Hawaiian women couldn't understand the purpose of patchwork (cutting whole cloth into smaller pieces to sew them back again into blankets that are too warm for Hawaiian weather) but they did understand decorative work and instead adapted applique to their own traditional uses and arts.
The Hawaiian Flag Quilt is of a different nature entirely and I never heard of it until Kathy Mentioned them. After the overthrow of Queen Lili‘uokalani , the Hawaiian Royal Flag, that represented the country of Hawaii (and not the 50th state) was banned. In order to keep the memory of sovereignty and independance alive, women turned the Hawaiian Flag into quilts to remember their own history.

I am very proud of Hawaiian women and of women everywhere who continue to let their voices speak through art. We are once again in a revival of handmade products. Everywhere you look you see somebody knitting, crafting, sewing. It certainly makes people appreciate what they have more. Once you learn to knit, you can no longer even look at a scarf or hat without full comprehension of how much time it took somebody to make that. We are talking from raising the sheep, to processing the wool, spinning, dyeing, and finally making it into something wearable. Hawaiian women put there heart into those flag quilts. I'm proud to say that I'm at least one person who still hears it beating.
Thank you Kathy