flat rock brook birds of prey presentation.

This past weekend, during what I considered my birthday weekend and therefore an extension of my birthday, I attended a Flat Rock Brook birds of prey presentation in Ercel Webb Park.

IT WAS INCRED. I love birds and birding and all things bird and have been waiting for the opportunity to see one of these presentations. I saw their recent presentations at Lincoln Park and another park I forgot on social media and couldn’t wait for the chance to go to one myself.

THIS WAS MY CHANCE.

I do think that these presentations are probably intended for children and like…FINE. But I signed up and I went and I saw some birds and you’re never too old to learn something new and hang out with birds. Deal with it.

On Saturday afternoon I headed over to Ercel Webb Park and I was super pumped. First of all in my mind this particular park was called “Lafayette Park” because it’s by Lafayette Pool/Aquatic Center/whatever. I feel like I have even referred to it as “Lafayette Park” and other people have known what I was talking about.

It’s not called “Lafayette Park.” Sorry.

JK I LOOKED IT UP AND IT IS REFERRED TO AS “LAFAYETTE PARK” IN A LOT OF PLACES ON THE INTERNET. There must be some kind of transfer of power/responsibility going on but I’ll have to look into that another time because THIS IS ABOUT THE BIRDS. But PS “Friends of Ercel Webb Park” helped get this event going and introduced the birds and bird pros.

As I was walking over I saw two hawks flying over MLK Drive. I am NOT LYING, they were there. I don’t know what kind but I DO know they weren’t seagulls or turkey vultures because I checked. I CHECKED. So I was super pumped that I saw some birds on my way to see more birds.

When I arrived at the park I saw that they had a cute little pumpkin patch set up for the kids. Since I AM a kid and I had registered myself for the event I took a pumpkin and I don’t regret it. I love pumpkins.

They provided Thanksgiving stickers to put on the pumpkin which I felt was very inclusive and respectful to this most valuable but often ignored November holiday. Great work!

After securing my pumpkin and stickers I proceeded to an open area where there were circles spray painted on the grass, 6ft apart. This was the first place I saw circles like this in person! I’ve seen pics of them doing it in parks in NYC but never experienced it for real and I liked it.

I laid out my blanket, put some turkey stickers on my pumpkin, and took out some knitting to work on while I waited impatiently for the birds to be revealed.

They really built up the suspense with the bird reveal because they had the birds in dark boxes! I’m no expert but I do know that birds feel safe and calm and probably like it’s time to take a nap when they’re in a dark, enclosed space. My pet budgie really likes it and I think he’s qualified to tweet for all birds.

It felt like actual years went by but it was finally time to take the birds out and I’ll tell you all about what I learned!

tilly – eastern screech-owl.

Tilly the Eastern Screech-Owl was napping HARD when they took her out of her box. Since she’s nocturnal it was during her sleep time.

Tilly ended up with Flat Rock Brook because she got attacked by a cat and is blind in one eye. She wouldn’t be able to live her badass screech owl life in the wild, so she lives a badass screech owl life as a bird ambassador and I think that seems okay with her.

During Tilly’s time in the spotlight she started to wake up and move around a little and she was really, REALLY cute.

But also a fierce predator that dines on small rodents and insects. YUM.

Toward the end they played a screech owl sound for us. They said they were going to play it before they played it and I was like “OMG Tilly is gonna LOSE IT!” because that’s what my pet bird does when I play pet bird sounds.

Tilly did not lose it and actually didn’t even notice. I guess she’s just too cool for school.

titus – american kestrel.

Titus, on the other hand, LOST IT. As soon as they took him out of his little box he was yelling and flapping and seemed completely outraged.

Sorry I couldn’t get a good pic of Titus but he was a lovely bird.

Kestrels as a species maybe get a little outraged sometimes, I’m not sure. They’re a type of falcon and were described as “feisty.” They’re common in cities, so be on the lookout!

I also learned that Titus was hit by a car and had one wing that didn’t heal correctly so he couldn’t be released back into the wild. Because he can’t fly. HE IS A BIRD AND CAN’T FLY. HOW RUDE OF THE WORLD.

Honestly I think he’s still pretty pissed about it and I guess I would be too.

jones – red tailed hawk.

Jones! Hello! I love you!

Before they took Jones out they were like, “Just want to warn you, this thing is huge.” And they took her out and SHE WAS HUGE.

I’m used to seeing these guys in the sky in the field behind my parents’ house, up in tall trees at Lincoln Park, and in every state I’ve ever traveled, soaring over the highway. They’re all around!

But it’s super nuts to see one so close because they are ENORMOUS. So large and beautiful and perfect and asking to be my best friend.

Sure!

Loving. It.

Poor Jones was shot by a shotgun and honestly if I remember correctly I have met other hawks that were similarly disrespected. LIKE WHY?!

Additionally Jones has a female Red-tailed Hawk friend named Ramona she lives with, and SHE got hit by a car. I’m so glad there’s a place for the birds to live that will take care of them and watch out for them and also bring them out into the community to hang out with me and other children.

josephine – great horned owl.

Josephine the Great Horned Owl was hurt by garbage humans in a slightly different way. She was found as an owlet, and because she was very, very young, she imprinted on the (not owlet professional caregivers) people that were taking care of her and never learned how to live that owl life.

So now she needs human assistance to live some kind of owl/person hybrid life. SHE IS LIVING A LIE.

But she was very beautiful. VERY. And the most amiable of all the bird ambassadors, I guess because she was the most comfortable around humans and/or didn’t feel like taking a nap like Tilly.

They talked a bit about bird body language with Josephine, I think as a way to highlight how comfortable she seemed compared to the other guys. She really was just hangin out, owling around. And stuff.

I study my pet bird’s body language very closely and I think he wants me to get out of his face most of the time so I found this part very interesting.

And then it was over! It went by so fast! It also started to get cold as the sun went behind the buildings around the park, so I was ready to pack it up and go home.

I can’t wait for there to be another bird presentation in a local Jersey City park. I don’t care if it’s the same birds and bird pros and the same presentation with the same information, I will go INFINITE TIMES.

MAYBE I’LL SEE YOU THERE.

fall weekend upstate.

This past weekend I went “upstate” to West Kill, NY to peep leaves and do other upstate shit and it was everything I’ve ever wanted from a fall weekend upstate.

“Upstate” is kind of like a “scene” and it’s fine because I’m totally into a “scene.” But I would say it seems like more of a “scene” now that everyone has escaped from Manhattan/Brooklyn and turned it into Manhattan/Brooklyn 2.0. But that’s okay! It’s Manhattan/Brooklyn with leaf peeping! And hiking! And the possibility that you might see a bear! The possibility is really real, I swear!

And who knows, maybe it’s been like that forever. I only went upstate for the first time 2 years ago.

I’m no expert. But they did go there in Dirty Dancing (there are a ton of books I now need to read at that link) and in Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. So I guess it’s been a scene for a while.

Anyway, here’s my fall weekend upstate.

the outfits.

I’d like to start with the outfits. I didn’t get a lot of pics but many people I saw had some really great outfits. They ranged from like a “hiking chic” look to a “unnecessary hat” look to a “canoes on my boyfriend cardigan” look and everything in between. I greatly enjoyed outfit-watching.

I did my best to not be a creep so I didn’t get many pictures. But as you may know it’s very hard for me to NOT be a creep so I did get some.

Look at this couple! They were perfect! I mean it’s mostly the guy with his cloud sweater and matching pants and sunglasses, but the gal also gave it her all. They looked awesome when they were standing and walking together. Just reigning over the outdoor dining area at Phoenicia Diner.

Another fun spotting at Phoenicia Diner was this gal in the canoes on her boyfriend cardigan. You may have thought that was a joke when I said it up there but it was REAL. AND IT WAS AMAZING.

I didn’t get pics of any other outfits except my own, but just know that there was plaid and army green and hats and beanies and boots and sweaters and it was all a very cozy fall catalog vibe.

Here I am in my own unnecessary hat.

And again in the unnecessary hat but WITH PLAID.

I think it’s fair to say that the proper outfits are COMPULSORY for a fall weekend upstate.

the cabin.

My pal married into owning a cabin in West Kill and it’s freakin badass.

The cabin is in the middle of nowhere, kind of up a mountain, and that’s exactly where I wanted to be. It is quiet, quiet, QUIET and you don’t have to listen to anyone’s shit. You can’t even hear a car. At this point in the year the bugs are even quiet. And because it takes so long for the sun to come out the birds seem lazy and therefore quieter in the morning. It was peaceful AF.

I JUST WANTED SOME PEACE AND I GOT IT.

Their cabin is really super adorable and cozy. They decorated it like real experts and the record collection is off the chain. When my other friend and I pulled up on Friday night it was around 8pm and all of the lights were on outside and it just looked so perfect and welcoming. I couldn’t get over it.

It was really, REALLY nice to wake up in the morning and sit outside in an Adirondack chair and drink coffee and think about nothing. I really wanted to see a bear but I only saw a bluejay. But it was a lovely bluejay!

The bed I slept in was very comfortable and the house was warm but not TOO warm and I slept with the window open for fresh air. It was really the perfect scenario. I think “fresh air” was my number one wish for this fall weekend upstate.

That’s my airbnb review, you heard it here first.

the food.

So the food was a big part of this trip. It always is, for me. Food is very important. Especially recently because there is nothing else to live for and I’ve gained 20lbs. I don’t really know what else to tell you about that. It sucks that none of my favorite clothes fit but it’s also been delicious.

When we first arrived my friend had made us a CHEESE PLATE. It’s like, SHE ALLOWED US TO STAY AT HER HOUSE, and she ALSO made us a cheese plate! Can you believe our luck?!

Ugh it was so good.

After the cheese plate we did some grilling! By “we” I mean “she” did the grilling and I ate it. I don’t know how to grill, are you nuts?

The next morning, my other pal made us eggs for breakfast. Best eggs I ever had. I felt a little bad because she’s a mom and she kinda went all-in on mom mode and was like, “I’ll make us all eggs!” And I was like, “Well I’ll def eat them…and I probably can’t help much because I’d get in the way, so I’ll just sit in this Adirondack chair and drink coffee.” And I felt like a child or a dad, not doing shit. But the eggs were edible and incredible and I don’t regret a thing.

Next up we went to a farm market which will be explored in another section. But when we got there a lady at one of the stands was like, “Free Bread Alone bread!” And since it was free I took some. It ended up being really good! We had it with a cheese plate later that day.

As far as food goes our next stop was Mama’s Boy Burgers in Tannersville. I got a grilled cheese and butternut squash fries. I had never had butternut squash fries but it seems like such a great and obvious idea! Especially for the fall. They had a bit of a sweet seasoning on them, like cinnamon, that paired well with the chipotle mayo dipping sauce I got.

Mama’s Boy ALSO had a TON of ice cream and I was obviously into it.

I got chocolate peanut butter soft serve, their special of the day, with Reese’s Puffs on top. I haven’t had Reese’s Puffs since middle school and it was a happy reunion.

On Saturday night we went to Urban Cowboy, which is a “scene” all its own, and we had Roberta’s pizza. Roberta’s is 200% worth the trip to Bushwick and it was also worth the trip to Big Indian, NY because that shit is INCREDIBLE. We got a Bee Sting, my personal fav because you can never go wrong with sopressata and hot honey, and a White Guy to mix it up a little.

The free Bread Alone bread returned to our collective consciousness back at the cabin when we put together ANOTHER cheese plate with some cheese from the Farmer’s Market. Cheese plates are so important, you guys.

Our original plan involved making ‘smores outside but it was very cold and also a lot of effort to build a fire. So we (by “we” I mean my two pals because I’m terrified of fire) made a nice fire in the woodstove. I think that’s what it’s called. A stove-like box made of metal and you put wood in it.

I was fully committed to the ‘smores because I have a serious problem with sugar addiction so then I made ‘smores in the stove thing.

THEY WERE DELICOUS.

The next morning my mom pal was back with more eggs to serve me again and I am forever grateful.

On the way home we went to Phoenicia Diner and since it’s a diner I had to get a tuna melt and fries. Like come on.

I liked the way this place was set up, you ordered from an Airstream trailer and then sat down and a lady called your name when the food was ready.

I think that maybe pre-COVID there wasn’t any outdoor dining and you probably had to wait in line for a while at this place to get a table at that time of day, 11:30am on a Sunday when everyone is heading home the same way.

But it’s not the case now because people eat their food pretty quick and leave because they’re cold.

SILVER LININGS OR WHATEVER.

the drinks.

It’s fall. It’s the weekend. It’s a fall weekend upstate and you should probably have a few drinks. Okay well, I drank a ton, as I considered this to be a vacation weekend in addition to a fall weekend.

It was!

First drink was in the Bronx. I was in the Bronx because I was meeting my friend up there to get on the road as she was coming from Long Island and I was coming from Jersey City. I took the green train (4,5,6) to Mt. Eden station. I have no idea what part of the Bronx that is and still have no idea. My Bronx knowledge is limited.

I exited the subway platform and found the first bar/lounge/whatever I could find. I sat down. I ordered a mango mojito. OMG I could not wait for this mango mojito.

The waiter brought the mojito. I sipped it. IT WAS VERY SALTY. In my mind I thought it was SUPPOSED to be salty for some reason? Sometimes on the street in NYC I see ladies selling mangoes with like, chili powder on them? I think that’s what it is. So I tried my best to think that the mojito was along those lines. I took a few more sips and then the waiter came out and was like, “LOLOL sorry I used salt instead of sugar!” and took it inside.

I was fully ready to drink an entire salty mojito and not even complain because I wanted to be respectful and I need you to know that.

That evening with the cheese plate we had rose and also this delicious beer I only just discovered there in their fridge, Zero Gravity Green State Lager.

The next morning as we prepared for a hike we packed another of these beers at my host pal’s suggestion. “It’s fun to crush a beer after a hike!” (I’m paraphrasing but I did indeed “crush” said beer after the hike).

Saturday afternoon we went to West Kill Brewery and that’s getting its own section so please read on.

Saturday evening at Urban Cowboy, scene of a scene, I of course had a cocktail but I forget what was in it. The bar it was served from was very intricate and beautitful and I felt not worthy of it.

Last memorable drink was the adult milkshake I got a Phoenicia Diner. OMG it was so incredibly good. It was called Sugar Shake Shack and I don’t know what was in it so you’ll have to go there to find out.

the farm market.

Saturday morning was rainy but we still felt drawn to the Lexington Farmers’ Market. It was the last one of the season! It couldn’t be missed! I’m not even being sarcastic, my friend did have to stock their freezer for the winter with $100 worth of meat. It was an impressive undertaking.

As I mentioned we got the free bread here.

I also got some Xmas gifts DO NOT TELL. But I may have gotten them from Arc Ceramics and all of their stuff was really beautiful so it was hard to choose! They also had a sale on a bunch of stuff so that made it easier. To choose.

There were a number of farms there and I got some cheese and chapstick from Heather Ridge Farm.

Mushrooms are proven freaks and creep me out but if you DO like mushrooms they had many different kinds available as seen below. I think if you like them this is a pretty cool situation so I’ll let you have that for now.

We got some coffee cake here too but it wasn’t our favorite. We’re sorry.

Great farmers’ market overall. Keep up the good work. I guess not until next year when you open again. Keep it up either way.

the hike.

We hiked to Kaaterskill Falls and holy hell this hike was insane. “A hike” is a defining component of a fall weekend upstate and of upstate life in general. Everyone be hiking.

At first we tried to park right by the top of the falls and there was a line of cars waiting for other cars to leave the lot and a guy down the street charging $20 to park at his house. This really rubbed me the wrong way, the $20 guy.

Either way there was no way in hell we wanted any part of waiting for hours or paying $20 so we found a different (free) parking lot and entrance at the Kaaterskill Rail Trail.

The hike started tame enough as it was simply along on old rail trail. Hence the name, the Kaaterskill Rail Trail. It was flat and simple but there were a lot of roots/old railroad woods and I kept tripping. Eventually I got my shit together and luckily I did because WTF THIS TRAIL GOES TO THE TOP OF A WATERFALL THAT IS HUGE.

As with most waterfalls you can hear Kaaterskill Falls before you see it.

Once you can kind of see it through the trees, there appears before you a viewing platform that at this point in history you must wait in line to stand on. We joined the line and waited.

During this wait I left the line to walk on the edge under the platform and get a look at the falls from there. I easily could have fallen to my death. This place is terrifying.

During the wait we came across an informational sign and it said there used to be a hotel at the top of the waterfall. WHAT KIND OF INSANE IDEA IS THAT?! It’s not there anymore but allegedly some of the foundation remains. The idea that there was a hotel here chills me to the bone.

What was even MORE chilling was the fact that once we got our chance for a photo op on the platform, and timed ourselves for the 45 seconds that we thought were acceptable according to an unspoken social contract, we headed up a small hill where you could JUST WALK OUT TO THE TOP OF THE WATERFALL. You could walk down some rocks, and you could STAND RIGHT ON THE EDGE.

The full drop to your death is right where the water is flowing in the lower left corner.

WHY WAS THIS ALLOWED?!

The whole time I was feeling weird and like I was tempting fate but I was also really enjoying the leaf peeping from this height so I went along with it. There were a TON of people, most of them the youth, inching ever closer to the edge for the perfect photo. I attempted to talk myself out of feeling weird and tell myself that it had to be fine, since we were allowed to be here and it wasn’t restricted in any way.

Turns out we were NOT allowed to be there and on the way out we climbed over a little part of a fence surrounding the area that had been knocked down. OMG ILLEGAL AND DANGEROUS TOP OF WATERFALL ACTIVITY. Before the hike we had discussed how people have died there (omg watch the drone vids at that link, terrifying). And I was like, “Psh how do people even die there?” BUT I GUESS THIS IS HOW PEOPLE EVEN DIE THERE.

I CRUSHED my packed beer very soon after.

the beer.

Speaking of beer, West Kill Brewing is amazing and deserves its own section.

Also I just realized I can embed Instagram posts and I may have overdosed on it. For example look at this brewery cat! I saw him there but he was working so I didn’t want to bother him. But he’s truly a beautiful beast.

Omg wait, HE has an Instagram I MUST follow him.

West Kill Brewery is seemingly in the middle of the woods, like everything upstate. The brewery building is up on a hill and in front of it is a clearing. People park in the clearing BUT ALSO since it is COVID time everyone was kind of hanging out outside lounging around on the hill/clearing. It was great! They had a food tent too but we already ate.

Additionally they had some really fun merch that was IRRESISTIBLE. We all got beer coozies and two of us got a really cute long sleeve shirt that I wore constantly for the following 2 days.

As far as the beer, it was good! I’m going to go ahead and admit that for me beer is beer. Like, it’s fine. I got this Buck Fever lager pictured above and below. I’ve been a strictly Pilsner drinker lately but the Pilsner ran out. WERE THEY MESSING WITH ME?! Maybe. But the lager was fine and I really liked the art on the can. All of the cans had good art!

It was a super cool place to hang out. There were a ton of dogs and even some small children on the run. We couldn’t figure out who they belonged to but also we didn’t really care. Let ’em run, I guess. Some were even climbing trees! I don’t know, it was kind of weird. Not the brewery’s fault though.

They had an outdoor fire pit that was VERY NICE to sit next to and we all really enjoyed smelling like fire the rest of the day. Not sarcasm, WE LOVED IT. You could also see into a kind of valley and PEEP THEM LEAVES.

Loving the parking lot.

I wanted to stay longer but we had things to do.

the night time.

After the brewery we headed back to the cabin to change into night time outfits.

I was probably the only one concerned about a “night time outfit” but my friends kindly indulged me and that’s why they’re my friends.

After a glass or two of rose at home, we headed over to Urban Cowboy.

Urban Cowboy is the kind of place that I’m surprised they even let me in. It’s just so lovely and beautifully decorated and perfect. How does a place look this great?! I don’t know how they do it.

But like, look at this bar. WITH TREES GROWING NEXT TO IT. THE BEAUTY IS MIND BLOWING. I CANNOT.

We got some delish cocktails and went out and sat by the fire. My one pal is pregnant though and asked about a mocktail and was met with some…I don’t want to say disdain but it wasn’t the most encouraging response. Maybe I’m just used to the mocktail scene in Jersey City because they love making some mocktails, even with CBD! I don’t know if pregnant people can consume CBD but it’d be a lot cooler if they did. I was momentarily annoyed by the bartender’s seeming mocktail aversion/disregard but now I forget what even happened. I hope she got the mocktail. Maybe she got a lemonade or something? Unfortunately I forget because I was too busy looking at this taxidermy bear with a hat on that I really regret not getting a picture of.

Outside by the fire we lounged and drank drinks and it was lovely and quiet. Until some random guy started talking to us. I think he had also been drinking some drinks, likely a considerable amount of drinks as he was also on vacation so like why not. I don’t remember what he said but I do remember that we were like <eye roll>. Eventually he and his gf headed off to dinner and we were left with another odd couple. I actually think they were probably fine I just don’t like strangers.

We headed inside to get some Roberta’s pizza before it closed for the night and it was INCREDIBLE. I haven’t had Roberta’s for a while! It hasn’t really been feasible to travel to Bushwick, and the Mad Sq Eats food event outside my work where I usually get it has also not been happening this year. BECAUSE COVID. So it was great to really relish and enjoy a Bee Sting. Because it is everything I love about the world of pizza.

They also had a ton of merch at this place and I lost my mind and got this bracelet.

So that’s it! That’s the trip! Although the trip was the time of my life it took me days to write this blog post so good riddance. I don’t know why my brain doesn’t work anymore. I blame COVID for that too.

Do you ever enjoy a fall weekend upstate? Do you even like to go upstate? Where do you go? Where do you stay? What do you like most about it? What do you like least about it?

K see ya there on the scene.

harvest moon.

Last night I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t know why. I was like, half awake and something was bugging me, preventing me from sleeping.

I realized today it was the harvest moon, streaming in the window! Well, it was the ALMOST harvest moon because the actual harvest moon is happening tonight.

The harvest moon is always exciting because it’s a “fall thing” like pumpkin spice and Halloween and dancing naked around a fire in the woods with all of your best witch friends.

The harvest moon is just a full moon in the fall. That’s it. It’s a Farmer’s Almanac thing, which always impresses me because they made that shit up years ago before they even really knew about science. They definitely didn’t have the internet or even computers so I’m still not sure how they did it. I’m afraid to find out because it probably involved stupid math.

This particular moon is so incredibly full and bright that farmers can harvest their harvest by moonlight. Because we all know how long it takes to harvest a harvest and frankly there aren’t enough hours of daylight. Personally I’m exhausted from all of the harvesting I’ve already done today.

And because the harvest moon kept me awake last night.

I love animals and nature and shit and I’d like to say I know all about the moon but I actually know nothing about the moon. Any time a moon thing happens I have to look it up. I leave it to the moon professionals. It’s one of those things where there are too many specific facts to remember and I have no pneumonic device to grasp for so it just falls out of my brain. I DO remember the meaning of the harvest moon and “blue moon” though. AND THEY ARE PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT MOON THINGS.

But I also don’t really have the authority to decide which moons things are most important because I don’t know anything about moon things.

Sorry I guess.

There was a time in my early 20s when the Neil Young song “Harvest Moon” would make me cry any time I heard it. I’m still not sure why. I think it felt nostalgic to me in some way, and it made me feel like I wanted to go back to the way something once was but I had moved too far into the future to ever go back. But as you may know the “things that once were” only become positive in your mind as you move away from them through time, and shit actually sucked back then.

That’s maybe too much thought to put into a song but here’s a remix I enjoy IMMENSELY, not for crying or even really thinking about at all, but for CELEBRATING.

Celebrating the harvest. Or whatever.

And the harvest moon.

Harvest moon happens tonight. Look up in the sky NOW. If you’re lazy or it’s cloudy, you’ll have the next day or two to get a peek. Mars is also hanging out next to it this year, looking for attention. JK sorry Mars I know you’re just living your life <sunglasses emoji>.

I just went outside to see it and I couldn’t see anything so…no pics. There was a pretty sunset though.

sunflower szn.

These are just some pictures I took of sunflowers.

Sunflowers make me happy because they look like they’re smiling and I really appreciate that about them and relate to it, most days.

They just have a big round smiling face and you can’t help but stare into it happily.

Part of what is so great about them is their versatilty.

They can grow in the middle of urban areas, often like the proverbial rose from concrete.

Or they can grow in the country, in someone’s yard or on the perimeter of a corn field.

THEY CAN DO IT ALL.

LIKE HANNAH MONTANA THEY ARE THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS.

The time of year that sunflowers come out is indisputably the most beautiful and comfortable to be outside time of year in the Northeast. Don’t even try to contest that because I’m not even listening.

It’s kind of “harvest time” but a little bit BEFORE “harvest time” so sunflowers are a nice “pre-harvest time” treat. Sunflower season is technically still summer in the garden state but it’s the END of summer so everything that has been soaking up the sun all summer long is ABOUT TO BURST WITH LIFE.

And then just as quickly die.

BUT FOR NOW IT IS ALIVE SO LET’S LIVE IT UP Y’ALL.

Also it’s almost October at this point so maybe I’m a little late on this. Sorry.

rally for liberty state park…again.

Not this past Saturday because I was at a wedding but LAST Saturday we attended a rally for Liberty State Park. I haven’t posted about it until now because I wanted to be very thorough and look things up and fact check like what people do in REAL JOURNALISM. As a classically trained journalist sometimes I like to do that. But it does take a lot of work, so not like, EVERY time.

As you can see, this took over a week to post so I guess I made the right choice in not pursuing a journalism career. Also in the end you’ll see that it’s mostly my opinion so who even cares.

This is the third time that we have gone to protest to protect Liberty State Park on behalf of the Friends of Liberty State Park. Their big issue is preventing the Caven Point section of the park from being developed by the nearby golf course. Caven Point is a natural area where a lot of migratory birds hang out. As well as a ton of other animals like harbor seals and also shanimals.

Yes, I hang out there.

The protests are always held in the southern part of the park, close to Caven Point. To me this part of the park feels like the most “state park” part of the park. I think it’s the parking lot.

On the way in, we noticed an odd box truck with screens on both sides, playing a commercial for Liberty State Park. This commercial seems okay on the surface, but it is not okay. This commercial is a trap. It was created by Liberty State Park for All, an organization that receives funding from Paul Fireman, billionaire and face of the movement to turn Caven Point into 3 holes of the Liberty whatever golf course.

This group has been working on blatantly misleading the community into thinking that Friends of Liberty State Park are somehow against keeping the park maintained and available to everyone. They’ve targeted citizens in Wards A and F (Greenville and Bergen Lafayette, respectively) to try to convince them that the Friends of LSP are against cleaning up the park and developing the park for the community, and that they only care about birds.

You know how much I care about birds. But the whole “bird” thing turned into a whole rude AF target for Liberty State Park for All. Like making fun of people for liking birds and wanting to protect birds. OKAY COOL THANKS JUST MAKE FUN OF THE BIRDS THAT’S REALLY HELPING SHIT, YOU GUYS.

The thing is, it’s very obviously not just about the birds. They just had to find something to focus on, to pick at. To create the narrative that we’re protesting against something that would actually benefit people and therefore we’re being lame for only thinking about birds. But making Caven Point part of a golf course wouldn’t benefit people at all. It certainly wouldn’t benefit “the public.” The public that lives in Jersey City and across the state.

It is a private golf course. It would not benefit the public in any way. Even if Paul Fireman expanded the golf course into Caven Point AND gave Liberty State Park private billionaire money to build some public stuff, like basketball courts, the public would still suffer. There are public funds for things like basketball courts, pools, amphitheaters, and everything else in the OG LSP “Master Plan.” We don’t need to make a deal with the devil madly fiddling away on top of a golf hole to get them. Are they called “golf holes?” I don’t know.

As we entered the park, there were “counter protesters.” I put this in quotes because there is reason to believe that they weren’t actual protestors and were paid to appear and protest. All of their signs were the same, in the same handwriting and said the same thing. As if someone had made them and passed them out. When directly asked what they were protesting for or against…they had no idea.

Everyone has a right to protest of course. And it’s fine, they weren’t doing anything wrong. But it’s suspicious that they were present under such conditions. IAs if they were being paid to participate, or were iuuuuuuu false information, or even worse were given no information at all. Which is actually what seemed like was happening. And it was creepy and weird and dare I say dystopian, just like the intentionally misleading commercial on the box truck.

We arrived at the protest to save Caven Point with a small sign in hand and took some pics with lady lib and then we were ready to protest.

Sadly it seemed like there were less people there than the last time we went to protest in January. And that could be for many reasons, COVID being the biggest one I guess. It was a Saturday, it was hot, people are just over it, etc. I don’t think there were less people because some of the people that were for protecting Caven Point last time are now against protecting Caven Point, but I didn’t have time to conduct an official survey. I think it was just people being people. And not showing up. That’s a people thing.

But the people that DID show up were great and there were a few really awesome speeches from some great NJ folks. I’ll share with you my notes:

Sam Pesin, President of Friends of LSP – “We’ll get started soon, you enjoy the sun!” I liked that nice little welcome.

Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro – “Some people can’t afford The Shore or Great Adventure and this park is that for them.” This was so beautifully Jersey and I couldn’t agree more.

I didn’t make proper note of who said this but I have the line, “In the dark halls of the statehouse…” in my notes and I think that was a clever dramatic device on someone’s part. Nice work.

“If you don’t show interest in politics, politics will stioll show an interest in you,” said Assemblyman Raj Mukherji. Also, “If they tried to do something like this in Central Park hell would freeze over. Why would we let it happen here across the river?!” YEAH.

Although he’s recently been a little questionable as far as likability in certain circles, circles that touch my personal circle as far as Jersey City society Venn Diagrams go, Mayor Fulop does say “Trenton” with a full-on NJ accent, “Tren-in,” like the “t” is silent, and that always makes me happy. And I’m sorry I guess. But I was glad he was there and for his support on this partcular issue at least. For now.

The mayor.

Ward E Councilman James Solomon appeared in an NJCU hat and I wrote in my notes he was “tryna be eyyyyy cool JC guyyyy,” emphasis my own. In the end he did reference the hat and also that he teaches at NJCU which I didn’t know so I guess I revoke my mean girl comment. Although I still haven’t forgiven him for the time when I used to live downtown and he knocked on my door and tried to engage me in some kind of political process when I was very hungover and clearly wearing my pajamas. That was too much for me. But I still like him, he’s doing good things. It’s fine. I’ll be fine. Ward E is Downtown, for your records.

I’d like to pause and say that Dancing Tony dutifully sanitized both mics and mic stands in between speakers. Thank you. HE RUNS FREAKIN FUN YOU GUYS.

New Jersey NAACP Armed Forces and Veterans Chair (and acting Environmental and Climate Justice Chair) Keith Bodden came out with a pile of literal hats (and a literal hat assistant man) to show all the different “hats” he has worn in his life and still wears now. I LOVED IT A TON YOU GUYS.

HATS!

I have in my notes that Frank Gilmore was the “best guy” but I guess I was tired at that point and I didn’t write down why. But just know that he freakin killed it.

A local 8th grade student came up and read a letter to the editor she wrote. She did a beautiful job and was very composed and well spoken, I felt proud! I got a little tearful when she brought up some things about the birds. You guys know I love birds. The whole time I was like, “maybe we need to make it less about the birds so people can’t tease us about the god damn birds,” but then I was like, “well…I do like the birds.”

Speaking of birds, Shayna Marchese also spoke a bit about the birds! She’s a photographer who takes AWESOME pics of birds in NJ. All birds all the time. I LOVE HER INSTAGRAM GO TO THERE. A TON of the birds she captures are within Liberty State Park and Caven Point specifically so you can really see what the area has to offer as far as nature, even in such an urban setting.

@shayna.marchese on Instagram GO NOW!

I don’t know when the next vote for the LSP Protection Act is, and I couldn’t find it online! I did find some information in all of the following locations, and I encourage you to check them out. I do think they will be updated once they have a date in mind.

Friends of LSP

Baykeeper of NY/NJ

BAYKEEPER + Good Boi

jersey fresh.

It’s true, I’ve been having a hard time lately. I’ve been tired, uninspired, depressed. Just feelin blah. So I made an executive decision to spend some more time in my homeland in a van down by the river. And down by the river we keep it Jersey fresh.

Today, much to my surprise and absolute DELIGHT, my mom took me to a farm stand in Ringoes. She had a gift card. Who receives a gift card for a FARM STAND?!

My mom does, that’s who.

We were running around doing errands as folks who have off on a weekday do and all of a sudden she sharply cut the wheel of her Mazda CX-5 and we looped through a jughandle and boom we were at Sweet Valley Farm Market and our lives would never be the same.

You may not be aware but New Jersey is the Garden State. That means we have gardens, in our state. Not only do we HAVE gardens but we are KNOWN FOR GARDENS and mostly we’re known for giant gardens and another word for “giant gardens” is “farms.”

What we brought home! Eggs are from my mom’s chickens though.

We are known for farms. Farms that churn out Jersey fresh produce at a rate of one million tomatoes per minute. Also we invented the greatest tomatoes of all time. With science. At Rutgers. They’re called Ramapo tomatoes and they are The Godfather of tomatoes. I don’t even care what you have to say about it because they are everything worth loving in our state and I can’t be convinced otherwise.

Beyond that, this farm market was everything I needed and more. I have recently been feeling shitty and I blamed it on the time of year like “oh it’s the dog days of summer” or some shit. But today I did a full on 180 and realized I actually really love this part of the summer. Everything is at peak green lushness and ready to be harvested. But it’s like the first part of harvest time. When everything still feels fully alive and not dying like it is in the fall. It’s like you pick something to eat and it still could grow back, or grow more for you to take later this year. It’s not too late. It’s still summer.

It felt nice to realize this. But it took spending some quality one on one time with some tomatoes and peppers and peaches and eggplants to come to this realization. And I thank my mom for bringing me to this beautiful temple of crops to worship the gifts bestowed upon us by our incredible state. The 3rd state to ratify the US constitution.

Upon entering the farm stand I first noticed some peaches. I love love LOVE peaches but only NJ peaches in the summer. Or Georgia peaches OBVIOUSLY but you have to be in Georgia to get those…OBVIOUSLY.

At this point in COVID-19 history I feel like it’s straight up asshole behavior to squeeze at things before you buy them to see if they’re ripe so I had to make an educated guess on which basket of peaches to choose. They had white and yellow peaches and I prefer yellow. That’s all I have to say about that.

As I was excitedly wandering and taking pictures my mom told this old dude working there that I was “in from the city” and maybe not used to all of this farm-fueled excitement. She’s wrong because I WAS BORN INTO THIS FARM-FUELED EXCITEMENT but maybe she said it to make him give me free stuff. Because quicker than you can say “elotes” he swooped over, scooped up a random ear of corn, tore it open, and told me to take a bite.

So I did. As a sample. It was incredible. I will tell you one thing about Jersey corn in August and that is that it is JERSEY FRESH. DON’T YOU FORGET IT.

We browsed some more and I came across some lovely cucumbers.

Some perky peppers.

A very sassy eggplant.

Beautiful flowers.

And of course miles upon miles of luscious, red, perfectly ripe, height of their season and prime of their very lives, Jersey tomatoes.

There is nothing more beautiful.

And there you have it. Jersey fresh. That’s all I really wanted to say. I feel Jersey fresh, personally. And REfreshed. And renewed. And it was produce that did it. The end.

notable animal residents of jersey city: canada geese.

It’s possible you refer to these notable animal residents of Jersey City as “Canadian” geese. It’s actually “Canada” geese, if you want to be a dick about it.

I want to be a dick about it.

Canada geese are everywhere, in Jersey City and across the whole state and also in New York and Pennsylvania and possibly beyond that. They have taken over this land. And unlike their human countrymen they are mean as hell.

Beyond outraged.

They use the bathroom all over everything. The sidewalks, the roads, the grass. Our high school sports fields were fully defiled by them. I used to have to do cartwheels and back handsprings through through those fields. DO YOU THINK I LIKED PUTTING MY HAND ON GOOSE SHIT BY ACCIDENT BECAUSE I DIDN’T.

Some places (ahem, Brooklyn) have resorted to hunting them with dogs. They have literally released the hounds. Or maybe it was like sheep dogs? These geese got straight up Lassie-ed. If by “Lassie-ed” you mean ripped to shreds by a carnivore.

Okay after I looked this up I found that the Lassies and the actual killing of geese were two separate things. In 2009 geese in Prospect Park were capture and killed by gas and thrown in a dump. Which is heartbreaking and way less badass than a noble death by a natural predator. I’m pretty sad about it.

The problem is, they ARE invasive. Like they always were around some of the time, but only when they were migrating. Then one day they were like “omg we honkin’ heart the tri state area let’s stay FOREVS.” And then they did.

And honestly, I love them. I love them like I love all birds and all animal life that can thrive within a city, because seeing that animal life makes me happy.

But they ARE straight up dicks. They are PISSED OFF. They DO NOT LIKE YOUR TONE. Mostly I think they don’t want people by their babies and/or nests but they act like dicks even when it’s not baby season.

K see ya.

Speaking of baby season, it’s baby season now! These cuties! For a couple of weeks every spring, Jersey City residents forget how annoyed they are by Canada geese and they turn into local celebs.

They march their little families all around the town – through Newport Green, across the whole length of Liberty State Park, in a murky puddle on Marin Ave. They’re everywhere! I don’t really know their habits for sure but they seem to be in committed couples and sometimes the parents have two batches of chicks with them that are two different ages. This seems like a bold family planning strategy for a goose couple to take on and I salute them.

For the past couple of days I have been practicing this camera and taking pictures of my Canada goose pals. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. If not I don’t know what to tell you.

it’s earth day and i miss the earth.

Today is Earth Day and I MISS THE EARTH.

Going to add some photos of the earth and me enjoying it.

I miss the earth because I’m trapped inside and also trapped in a city and I can’t get to my most favorite parts of the earth and it is KILLING ME.

My apartment doesn’t count as “the earth.” My street doesn’t count as “the earth.” EVEN THIS CITY DOESN’T COUNT AS “THE EARTH” BECAUSE ALL OF THE GOD DAMN PARKS ARE CLOSED. OMG ALL THE STATE PARKS ARE CLOSED TOO. I’M GONNA LOSE IT.

A state park that’s closed 😔

The best parts of the earth are the emptiest parts. The emptiest of people, that is. A space almost completely devoid of humanity, is where i want to be. Currently I’m stuck in a highly populated part and I can’t escape. I really would like to return home to the forest of my origin but I am afraid to put my parents in danger. So I have to stay HERE.

I look mad but I still like it.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go out and protest this like a moron. It’s INSANE that there are people doing that. I realize that these restrictions on the earth are necessary to keep us safe and we have to follow them and bla bla bla. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THEY DON’T FREAKIN SUCK.

But alas, there is also some information out there that indicates the earth is much better off without me. And without you. AND WITHOUT EVERYONE. Like these maps are nuts to see. The earth is doing much better without us out there. But I still miss the earth.

I love Earth Day, and I get pumped about it every year. But this year it’s making me feel more depressed. Because everything I’m missing out on makes me feel more and more depressed. Basically FOMO is my least favorite thing in the entire world and OUR ENTIRE LIVES HAVE BECOME FOMO AND IT IS UNBEARABLE.

I MISS THE EARTH I CAN’T TAKE IT!

I want to go outside and be among the trees and the waterfalls and the mountains and lakes and rivers and all the other good stuff. Maybe I’m being a wimp by not leaving my house except to get groceries or sit on the stoop and read a book. I also don’t have a car so there isn’t anything to take me anywhere. I don’t know, I’m just really sad about the whole thing.

Either way, I wish a happy day to this lovely gal we call the earth. I love her, I miss her, and my dreams are full of wishes for the day we meet again.

UGH.

feed the birds.

This gosh darn old AF gal knew it all along when she used to sing it to us…FEED THE BIRDS.

I loved that old lady. I wanted her life. And I thought the dad was a such a dick the whole time, which I guess you were supposed to. But he was a HUGE dick in this part like JUST LET THE KIDS FEED THE DAMN PIGEONS. LET THEM FEED THE BIRDS.

Pigeons are my favorite. Don’t even start with me.

But I love all birds! Birds are fun. First of all, they’re everywhere. They are all around us: city, country, mountain, river, on top of a tall building, they don’t give a SHIT. Since they’re everywhere, they can help you connect to nature at any given moment. Even on a very busy city street you can hear a chirp chirp chirp of a little house sparrow and you’re like, “Okay. This isn’t humans-only. I can deal.”

In these depressing times I have been looking out the window a lot. LIKE A LOT, A LOT. I know everyone is, because there are memes about looking out the window. A lot of memes. LIKE A LOT, A LOT. But one important thing I’ve had more time to look at are birds. AND I AM ALL ABOUT THE BIRDS. And I want to feed the birds.

meet the birds.

There is a cardinal that lives on my block. I believe there is only one bright red cardinal that you would think of as like a CARDINAL cardinal on my block and it is the boy one that is the boss around these parts. We have seen two lady OR juvenile ones. They could be either, we aren’t professionals and we don’t really know. A cardinal sound is the only sound I can recognize by sound and I hear it start at the same time every morning and it goes on and on the whole day through.

There is also a pretty consistent mourning dove that perches on the electrical wire thing outside my front windows. Oh I can also recognize that one by sound. But it makes me want to fall asleep. But it’s also calming. I guess it’s fine.

Yesterday I spotted a bluejay! I just saw the flash of its tail. I didn’t know what sound they make so I looked it up. Now we know. Spoiler: They sound like screech-y dickheads.

Along with these brighter bird stars are the less glam house sparrows and the sadly named starlings. House sparrows are cute and seem sweet but mostly they’re just basic. They’re the basic bitches of the bird world. Like they’re fine but there are a lot of them and you can’t tell them apart. There are actually a ton of types of sparrows that look exactly like house sparrows but they’re technically different kinds. I don’t have time for their bullshit. They all have the same feathers and got their hair done at the same place IF YA FEEL ME.

Starlings are an invasive species and I feel bad for them because it’s not their fault, forgive them for their fathers’ sins and all that, but they do pick on other birds and I don’t like their tone. They also keep boning constantly in the tree behind my house while I’m trying to eat breakfast and frankly it’s disrespectful.

Okay a Google search of both starlings and house sparrows dug up a ton of hot goss on them both and it’s not pretty so we’ll have to explore that another day. They both seem like total assholes and can be the bad guys in this story. Every story needs bad guys!

feed the birds.

Now that you’ve gotten a preview of the cast of bird characters, I’m going to tell you how to feed the birds.

Birds like bread…I think. I ordered a suet thing from Amazon and a little holder to hold it and I was all excited about it but some piece of shit person stole it from the front of my house. I hope they stole that box and opened it and were pissed it was bird stuff. No one likes bird stuff like I do. This piece of shit person probably never even realized that birds even exist. Let’s kick them.

Anyway I was super depressed due to the stolen suet and pretty much could not be consoled for hours. Finally I realized we had a stale Portuguese roll from EXTRA Supermarket so I broke it up into bird sized pieces and put it on the fire escape. I was desperate. I wanted to view birds and become one with birds and eventually become an actual bird so I could fly out my window and far, far away from here.

Birds came! Birds came to eat it. Some sparrows came, that was pretty much it. But it was a start. A squirrel also stopped by and I had to shoo it away. I like squirrels but THIS WASN’T FOR OR ABOUT THEM. By morning, all of the small pieces of bread were gone.

Was it birds? Was it squirrels? WAS IT WIND?! I don’t know but I did know that I had to get to Target early this morning and get some god damn birdseed immediately.

ATTRACTION!

So I got it. Brought it back.

(These aren’t real birds)

Poured it into an old cookie sheet because I don’t have a bird feeder and neither did Target.

Put it on the fire escape…

AND WAITED.

Only a squirrel came at first. It was pissing me off so I gave it some peanut butter to get it out of the way. I didn’t mean for it to take the tiny plastic container I put the peanut butter in. I thought it would lick the peanut butter out, like how a dog or cat would. I don’t know squirrels’ lives. I don’t know squirrels at all because it snatched it up and ran into a tree and down the street and out of my life forever.

Squirrel vid.

I know this is bad for squirrels, the environment, and the delicately balanced ecosystem. I promise not to do it again. It’s a desperate time and we all make mistakes. I’m sorry.

After I drove the squirrel away I set up my phone to get some video, and let it sit for 60 minutes. Almost nothing happened…but at the end the cardinal came and sat in the tree for a moment and thought about eating the bird seed! It also made cardinal sounds, so maybe it was alerting others to a new food supply. I hope it comes back tomorrow!

Cardinal!

I look forward to updating you on the full cast of birds during this time of boredom and crisis.