I’m sad to report that just before noon today my dear friend Rosie “The Cat” passed away.
A few weeks ago I began to notice Rosie wasn’t eating much but still drinking water. She seemed lethargic, but I knew something was up when I opened a can of Fancy Feast and she took all day to eat it.
I took her to the vet a few days later and the Doc gave me the bad news that she was showing signs of kidney failure. He gave me some medication and in his thick Eastern European accent said, “Either she’ll come back or she won’t.” His face told me not to get my hopes up.
Over the next few days she was quiet and slept a lot, but the drugs didn’t look like they were helping. A few nights ago I couldn’t find her and when I did, I knew that she knew. I looked into euthanization and resolved to go that route if she seemed to be suffering.
In the interim I did my best to keep her comfortable, but last night she had labored breathing and I knew it was close. This morning she stayed close to me, curling up around my feet as I worked at my desk. Looking at her, she seemed peaceful, resigned.
Around eleven o’clock I carried her into the living room swaddled in a blanket where she passed away peacefully in my arms.
She will be missed . . .
April 12, 2013
Another lovely morning along the cliffs of Negril. Well into my second cup of coffee, and just finished a wonderful breakfast made by Teddy the Chef here at The Castle.
I’d planned to get home early Friday after work, attend to some last-minute details and get to bed early. Of course that didn’t happen.
I ended up working till about 7 PM, then made the plan-bashing step of the night and met up with some work friends. We wound up having an impromptu sort of sad makeshift payday holiday party.
The married people had to get back to their families, but for me it was still early enough to get the “Last Boat Out of Hoboken”‘; so dramatic. It sounds like a movie from the 1940′s, but it’s what the boat dude announced (with much bravado) several times before closing the gate.
It must have been nine-thirty-ish, so I had been officially on vacation since I left the office at seven so I decided to splurge on a taxi back to Brooklyn for me and drinking pal Gabi. For some reason she and I find ourselves stumbling out of Hoboken together from time to time. We get in the cab near the Trade Center and off to Brooklyn we go. OK, home by ten thirty-ish sleep by eleven, taxi to airport 4 AM. No problem.
No sooner did we get in the cab when my phone started buzzing. It was “The Lerches”! They were in town and were looking to meet up in Soho within the hour. I looked over at the beautiful-but-too-young-for-me-brunette and asked, “Blue Ribbon in Soho?” She responded, “oooh oysters . . .” Gabi is never one to turn down a party. So I halted our driver, I think I may have actually even used the word “halt”, and he detoured the few blocks over to Sullivan at Houston.
It was great to see The Lerches so unexpectedly. They were in town for SantaCon, and had just gotten back from Negril a few weeks ago. I hope they got the kiddo home before mid-day happy SantaCon turned into late-night drunken evil SantaCon. It can be unpleasant.
As usual Blue Ribbon did not disappoint. Papa Lerch ordered the big-grande raw-bar extravaganza, with caviar and shots of vodka. There was more food and more shots. We got a little blurry, but it was a great time.
Gabi took off around midnight and “The Lerches” graciously paid for dinner then we went to find a night-cap bar. We ended up at a corner bar on Prince off of Broadway, but it was late, Mama Lerch was getting tired and I was to be on a plane in a few hours. We said our goodbyes and I got a slow R train back to Brooklyn, so slow in fact that I hopped out at Atlantic Ave and grabbed a town car home. I walked in the door at two-thirty AM.
The driver was picking me up at three-forty five, so I did what any overfed slightly buzzed person would do. I pounded a Red Bull, got in the shower, put my traveling clothes on, and fed Rosie the Cat.
Being a bit OCD on packing, was a big help in this situation. I had everything laid out and ready to go. I guess I know myself too well.
The driver was right on time, and I must have slept in the car because we were at JFK in like 30 seconds. I zombied through “Web-Check-In” and security and into my seat. It was a great trip, I slept all the way through.
I arrived in Sunny Jamaica around nine-forty five AM and was through the airport gauntlet by ten-thirty. I waited for a couple I’d met on the immigration line who’d suggested we split a cab to Negril. We found a driver, they haggled the price, and away we went.
Our driver was the serious type. Straight-through, no stops, and he drove fast. Very good choice. It seems every year the trip gets shorter. Every year they finish a bridge, or re-route around a town, or simply improve the roads in general. We dropped the nice Canadian folks off at one of the All-Inclusives just north of town, and I was at The Castle before noon.
The place looked great. It was a bright sunny day, wonderfully hap-hazard xmas decorating here and there. A lot of familiar faces. Ed “Ras-Walleye” and his lovely wife, Teddy, the staff, and of course Petrona and Susan.
I did my normal arrival routine. Change clothes, unpack then over to the store for supplies. I encountered Milly the Juice Lady on the way over, so I came home with some orange/pineapple juice too. “Home” meaning my room, Deluxe #1 at The Blue Cave Castle, after nearly ten years staying there, it feels like home.
I don’t know exactly what time, but I opened my second beer and realized I was exhausted so I “took a nap” expecting to be up for sunset. I woke up at just after ten PM. I guess I needed the sleep, and the tropical air is great for sleeping.
Sunday I just stayed around The Castle reading and decompressing. Other than a short trip to the store, and two sunset beers at the No-Limit bar; I did nothing.
December 17, 2012
How can I honor the last days of the Mayan long-count calendar? How about with a Packing List?
Packing List – December 2012
Clothes (Unless you’re going to Hedonism)
Ok, the Hedo joke rings a bit stale. Especially after that time me and . . . Umm, nevermind, I promised never to tell that story.
- 1 pair – Swim Trunks - Down from two, I almost never swim, and I hate getting salt water in my beer.
- 3 pairs – Cargo Shorts
- 1 pair – Gym Shorts - Down from three. Gym? Really? As if . . .
- 14 Assorted T-Shirts - Up from ten. I noticed the only one that has been with me since 2002 is my Sponge Bob shirt. A classic is always a classic.
- 3 Hawaiian Shirts - I’m realizing these are like my Jamaican uniform. Hmmm, might be time to reconsider.
- 1 pair – Jeans
- 2 pairs – Socks
- 12 pairs – Underwear
- Flip Flops
- Running Shoes (LOL, as if I’ll be running) - Ditto
- Light Jacket/Windbreaker - Hoodie (2012 update)
- 1 Hat - Down from two, I ain’t wearing that Eagles hat anywhere . . .
- Laundry Bag - I still think this is a great idea.
Health & First-Aid
- Prescriptions - These weren’t part of my 2005 world.
- First-Aid Kit (Simple, Band Aids, alcohol wipes, tweezers)
- Neosporin (For creepy crawly bites)
- Sun Block 50 SPF - Up from 15 because my sister nags me.
- Sun Block Stick 70 SPF (For my nose) - Up from 30 because I’d rather not get burned, I only blame my sister so as not to diminish my perceived machismo.
- Bug Repellent - I went all natural organic friendly this time, we’ll see how it works. Stay tuned . . .
- Pepto Bismol (Individual serving packets, helps w/ humidity)
- Excedrin Extra Strength (Great for hangovers! Individual packets also)- This gets more and more vital with each trip. . .
- Vitamins (Which I buy in single serve packages anyway)
- Hand Sanitizer (Good when hand washing doesn’t permit itself)- Confession: I carry this stuff but I never use it . . .
- Wet-Ones (I put them in the fridge, Woo Hoo! Instant cooling!) - This is like my secret weapon. Go ahead and scoff. Try it and you will thank me.
- Condoms - And no, they are not the same ones since 2002 . . .
Mind and Body
- My Jamaica Journal – It’s a leather-bound journal Kristine got me a few years ago that I only use in Jamaica. - This is still with me, still not full. I haven’t used it on the last few trips. It’s become such an heirloom I’m afraid to lose it, but since it’s the “End of the World” trip, what the hey.
- Meditation travel stuff – Buddha, candle, incense, zafu.
- Books - Books? What’s a book? I used to enjoy leaving my book on the shelf in my room for the next inhabitant, but on my last few trips I’ve embraced my Kindle.
This trip I’m packing a pre-read book to leave on the shelf. So if the world doesn’t actually end subsequent Deluxe One Blue Cave Castle stayers can enjoy Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
- Christmas Lights – Two boxes to decorate my space at The Castle! I like to refer to them as Holiday Enlightenments . . .
Kindle – Reading List:
A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing by Lawrence Krauss
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss
Jackpot: High Times, High Seas, and the Sting That Launched the War on Drugs by Jason Ryan
- iPhone - Camera, Camcorder and about a hundred other things . . .
- AAA Batteries – Energizer Max – 8 Pack
- Netbook (I plan to blog this trip daily!)- I always promise to blog daily, but I get all flubunged . . .
- Flashlight (De power go black a lot)
- Rain Poncho (for those afternoon storms)
- Disposable Lighters (Keep in checked baggage)
- Pocket Knife
- Waterproof Matches
- Travel Clock
- Reading Glasses – Ouch
- Breath Freshening Gum (Red Stripe and Jerk Chicken are great, but . . .)
- LifeStraw http://lifestraw.com - This is a personal water purifier a friend bought me for Xmas. I wasn’t gonna bring it, but it is the “End of the World” trip
(This is the boring part)
- Mouth Wash
- Disposable Razors
- Shave Cream
- Hair Brush
- Hand Lotion (Udder Cream is my fave)
- Nail Clippers
- Towels – Washcloth
- Money some 20?s, and $50 in singles for tipping
- ID, ATM Card, Credit Card
- Travel Wallet
- Plane Tickets
- Printed Hotel Reservations
- Pens (For the customs forms on the plane. I’ll be a hero because no one has a damn pen)
OK Mayans, the time has come. Now it’s put up or shut up!
December 11, 2012
by Pablo Neruda
There was something wrong
with the animals:
their tails were too long, and they had
Then they started coming together,
little by little
fitting together to make a landscape,
developing birthmarks, grace, pep.
But the cat,
only the cat
turned out finished, and proud:
born in a state of total completion,
it sticks to itself and knows exactly what it wants.
Men would like to be fish or fowl,
snakes would rather have wings,
and dogs are would-be lions.
Engineers want to be poets,
flies emulate swallows,
and poets try hard to act like flies.
But the cat
wants nothing more than to be a cat,
and every cat is pure cat
from its whiskers to its tail,
from sixth sense to squirming rat,
from nighttime to its golden eyes.
Nothing hangs together
quite like a cat.
December 4, 2012
I felt the need to write a note to NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Christie over in NJ. These guys have done a great job so far.
Be safe, keep dry and help each other where you can . . .
November 1, 2012
Hoping today will be an example of patience, vigor and generosity, throughout Brooklyn, NYC, Jamaica and all others in the wake of Hurricane Sandy . . .
My thoughts are with my family, friends and sanga members.
October 30, 2012
Ahh what a welcome sight that Guinness tap was as we finally got into Shannon Airport in County Claire Ireland, but we were still far from our destination.
No, I didn’t actually order a Pint of Guinness upon arrival. It being 5:45AM local time I felt it a wee bit early and opted for airport coffee, and then we went searching for our bus to Dublin.
Yes a BUS to Dublin! We arrived at JFK about 3:00PM for a 5:40PM flight and Aer Lingus would not let us check-in. 3:30, then 4 o’clock, and still we could not check in. The line began to grow longer and angrier as time wore on. Luckily, we were near the front of the line so we were among the first processed when the line started moving.
The check-in kid seemed stressed as I gave him my paperwork, and in almost a whisper he said, “Sir, I’m afraid your flight has been cancelled.” Yes, CANCELLED! But before I could get too pissed, he quickly offered us seats on a 6:20PM flight to Shannon with connecting bus service to Dublin.
Yeah its a pain in the ass, not to mention adding almost four hours to our trip, but at least we could leave that night. Many people in the long line did not get that option. Nice job Aer Lingus! (note: Irony)
We boarded and had a nice flight to Shannon, and the morning drive to Dublin Airport afforded us a pretty ride through the Irish countryside. From Dublin Airport it was a quick run to Dublin City Centre and to our hotel The Arlington O’Connell Bridge.
It was about 9:30AM by that time so we stored our bags at the hotel and staggered out into the Dublin morning to fine some food and some coffee, and to then get into what Dublin had to offer.
More to come . . .
April 19, 2012
Three more sleeps! Book, Pack and GO!
April 15, 2012
It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
Or many gods.
I want to know if you belong — or feel abandoned;
If you know despair
Or can see it in others.
I want to know
If you are prepared to live in the world
With its harsh need to change you;
If you can look back with firm eyes
Saying “this is where I stand.”
I want to know if you know how to melt
Into that fierce heat of living
Falling toward the center of your longing.
I want to know if you are willing
To live day by day
With the consequence of love
And the bitter unwanted passion
Of your sure defeat.
I have been told
In that fierce embrace
Even the gods
Speak of God.
by David Whyte
January 2, 2012
Oooh! The heat is threatenin’ our very lives today. . .
If I don’t get some AC, I’m-a-gonna melt away . . .
Woo Hoo, 104º in Manhattan today, the RealFeel® temperature is 115º. I’m sitting in relative comfort in a Starbucks at 51st & Broadway watching people stumble by. If there is a good day to be in the tourist-choked Theater District, 116º day is the day.
It’s funny to me how the media is freaking out about a little heat. Hey guys! It’s summer! But they report it as if it has never happened before when actually it happened about, I don’t know, eleven to thirteen months ago. Do we really need the Daily News to have sweaty people plastered on the front page? At least The Times put the story below the fold.
In a few months we will be all bitching about the cold. I’m heading back in the pool!
July 22, 2011
I’m starting this post with a few photos. I’ll add the drama later….
I love this angle!
As close as you can get . . .
Sunset from The Castle - June 18, 2011
From The Castle's yard - June 19, 2011
Another stunner from The Castle - June 24, 2011
Lovely sunset from Kuyaba - June 23, 2011
July 11, 2011
I’m long since booked, I packed last weekend and filled in a few missing items last night, so all that’s left is the GOing!
A 5:40AM Flight puts me in Montego Bay before 9AM, and at The Castle well before noon. It’s like getting an extra day in paradise!
I look forward to seeing all my Negril friends and fellow travelers.
June 17, 2011
I get so excited whenever I book a trip to sunny Negril! I’m not doing anything fancy, but I’m so relieved to be booked. Air Jamaica was expensive this time around. but what can you do?
I booked my favorite room at The Castle for the week and I can’t wait to see all my peeps!
Negril here I come! Woo Hoo!
May 9, 2011
My Friend Victoria is getting a lot of headaches from the MTA the past few days because she is using used MTA Metro Cards as canvas for mini paintings of New York City scenes.
I’m a big fan and I just had to grab a few of these mini masterpieces before they were all sold out.
This one caught my eye first.
Loved this one.
Victoria has a series of NYC Water Tower paintings that have always intrigued me.
Thank you Victoria, and good luck fighting “The Man”! We’re behind you all the way!
April 8, 2011
Many of you have no idea that I am a world-class film guru. Well, I am, and here are my 2011 Oscar Picks and Predictions:
Best Documentary: Feature
Restrepo - I haven’t seen this one, but I still think it should win. I don’t care if you’re pro-war, or anti-war. Get over yourself. The men fighting at fire base Restrepo didn’t have the luxury of your bougie opinions.
Best Music: Original Score
Hans Zimmer should win for Inception but the Nine-Inch Nails dude will win for The Social Network however undeserved.
Best Achievement in Costume Design
Who really cares, really?
Best Art Direction
The King’s Speech – I don’t know much about art design, but I know what I like, and The King’s Speech is beautiful in every detail.
Best Achievement in Cinematography
Another subject where I’m in the dark technically, but I liked True Grit. I loved the wide-rangey range shots. I’m a sucker for the wide-open west from my travels as a kid. Inception looked great too but it was too techy for awards.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Social Network will win. The book, which I liked, read thin and linear like a screenplay, but since Sorkin is everyone’s favorite quazi-political screenwriter it’s all him.
Best Original Screenplay
The King’s Speech – See a pattern yet? I loved the story of how a little West End play can make it through the gauntlet to become a major motion picture. It reminded me of the little train that c-co-could.
Aronofsky should win for Black Swan, but Fincher will win for The Social Network. I didn’t get a vote, but everyone is on Facebook and for some reason that seems to matter.
Best Supporting Actress
No idea on this one. I think Amy Adams could win, she’s kind of hot, and she’s a good solid actor, but I’m afraid the kid, Hailee Steinfeld from True Grit is the sentimental Jody Foster, Tatum O’Neil favorite. By the way, if Hailee does win someone needs to keep poor Dakota Fanning from slitting her damn wrists!
Best Supporting Actor
Everyone is saying this is between Christian Bale and Geoffrey Rush for The Fighter and The King’s Speech respectively, but my pick is Jeremy Renner from The Town. The guy was terrifying as the menacing best pal of Afleck’s lead.
Natalie Portman – But watch-out for Michelle Williams, everyone knows she got screwed not winning for Brokeback Mountain. Rachel Weisz really? I say no.
Colin Firth – He was great in The King’s Speech. I’d like to say it’s rare that I tear up in a movie, but I got misty watching Free Willy. Colin Firth’s performance was heartbreaking, subtle and powerful all at once. This is a must-see.
The winner is … wait for it … The King’s Speech!
I may have tipped my hand earlier, but I loved this movie on every movie loving level. It looked great, it was well shot, well paced, and had really special performances all around. Of course the leads were great, but the drunken-fat-pirate-dude from The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was an excellent Churchill. A deadly serious role but he somehow lightened every scene he was in. It was nice to see Helena Bonham Carter in a movie without a screwy get-up or any CGI appliances.
The simple story of a guy learning to move forward in life by dealing with that one thing that had held him back. This was no superhero story, nothing miraculous happens, he simply presses on. It was a beautiful story even if he was regular guy with regular problems, but the fact he was British royalty thrust into the limelight during the opening moves of World War II makes it a magnificent story.
February 25, 2011
I wrote a piece about my discovery of. and subsequent membership in, the Park Slope Food Coop here in sunny Brooklyn, NYC.
February 25, 2011
I woke up around 8AM, well that’s not really true, it was more like I stopped sleeping sometime around 8AM which for me is way late even on the foggiest of mornings. I’d slept so late that Kris was already showered and had gone down for coffee. I stumbled over to the fridge, groped for a bottle of water, and then over to my bag for a handful of Extra-Strength Excedrin. Even after the entire water bottle I was thirsty.
As if on cue Kristine bangs on the door, “Are you decent?” “Yeah sure,” I replied. “Good, I need some money, the Orange Juice Lady gave me this.” she said as she walked in holding an overproof rum bottle filled with Millie’s Orange Mango Juice, “It’s really friggin’ good.” she added between swigs. I have no idea what Millie actually charges, but I usually give her 500J and she seems happy with that.
It’s one of the joys of life at The Castle, I’ve mentioned before all the cool neighbors and neighboring restaurants, but it’s more than that. Millie seems to arrive at the perfect moment every time. I don’t think I ever had a “I wonder if Millie is gonna stop by today” thought that I can remember. She just appears when you can really use some fresh squeezed juice or just some fresh fruit. I’d chalk it up to coincidence, but it happens over and over again trip after trip. Let’s face it, she’s an OJ psychic.
It must have been a mixture of Millie’s juice, the cool shower and the Excedrin, but by the time I made my way out into the bright morning yard for the day’s first cuppa I felt totally revived and ready to conquer the day. Our little crew had commandeered about half of the big picnic table under a canopy of braided palm fronds that serves as the social center at The Castle.
This had been Meg and Jay’s fourth or fifth trip to Negril and the second that year. They had gone to The Grand Lido the previous January to attend “Rat Dog Daze,” several days of Deadhead fun in the sun with Bob Weir and friends. After someone has been to Negril several times, especially in a relatively short span of time, it seems that the decompression comes faster and the slide into Jamaica time happens much more quickly.
“We were thinking about Half-Moon Beach for today.” Meg offered. Half Moon Beach is about Meg’s favorite place in the world, and it seemed as good a day as any to venture up there. When The Kid came down to join us Meg filled her in on the wonderfulness that is Half Moon Beach and the collective decision was made. I added that a nice brunch at Selina’s would be the perfect preparatory detour landing us fat and happy on the little crescent beach spot right about noon. It was agreed and we went to our respective rooms to get our beach stuff.
Now I love Negril’s Seven Mile Beach, I have even gotten to know and love Bloody Bay Beach, but for a classic tropical beach experience in the general Negril area, for me it’s Half Moon Beach. About four years earlier I had been in Negril with a girlfriend who wanted to tan her boobies somewhere quiet and uncrowded. It happened to be Easter Sunday and we were having brunch at Selina’s, and it was Selina who suggested Half Moon Beach. That first trip was special. Being Easter Sunday there were several Jamaican families picnicking on the beach. The boob tanning idea went out the window, so she and I spent most of the day in the crystal clear water playing with the local kids. Later that year I was in Negril with Meg and Jay and shared with them my new find. On subsequent trips it’s a spot I rarely miss.
Selina’s is always great. I’ve been going there for years, and on Sundays brunch is tradition. I normally don’t do Big Roy’s Banana Pancakes but I was fearing the onslaught of a mighty hangover merely postponed by juice and analgesics, so I indulged. Jay had the same and I think both ladies ordered the American Breakfast. The food was great; fresh, hot and plentiful, and as always the Bloody Marys lived up to their “Best In Negril” reputation.
The Sunday Brunch Band had gone on break soon after our arrival and came back as we were finishing. Normally coffee and Bloody Marys lead to Red Stripes and an hour or so of lingering and mingling, but Half-Moon was waiting as was our driver. So we said our good-byes and headed north along the beach road.
The only time you ever see Half-Moon Beach crowded is during the twice-weekly Wild Thing anchorage, and I’m sure it gets busy during the season. This time there was a smattering of fellow travelers, and a few more arrived later in the afternoon, but twenty people does not a crowd make. We were lucky enough to take possession of the area near the big Seagrape tree at the water’s edge and proceeded in our revelry.
Sun, sand, ganja and Red Stripe, by mid-afternoon we had retreated to the bar for some snacky food, and another round of beers. Our driver was long gone, but a guy named Sonny had dropped off his fare and was lingering hoping not to deadhead it back to Negril so we cut a deal.
On the was back I talked everyone into a quick stop by Ossie’s Jerk Centre to sample the famous Jerk Pork. Unfortunately there were only two portions left, but really that was enough. We needed beer refills and the couple succulent chunks of porky yummy-ness did a nice job of holding us over till dinner.
Kristine negotiated a great deal for a Black River trip with Sonny our driver for Monday or Tuesday, so good a deal in fact that I expected not to see him again. He said he’s stop by in the morning to see what we wanted to do. Keeping plans loose was one of my goals for this trip, I didn’t want to feel as if we were working off a checklist all week.
Back at The Castle, we joined the rest of the big picnic table crew and became acquainted with Jim Zeppa and his friend and ex-daughter-in-law Nancy. Jimmy was a character to say the least, an older gentleman from Canada who’s spent his life in the music business. An old-school raconteur who held court every afternoon during our stay. He and Kristine hit it off. His name-dropping of talent large and small alternated as entertainment and background patter, but however received he just kept on going, all the while adding a sweet sentimentality to our week in paradise.
February 11, 2011