Friday, November 2, 2012

Stormy Weather

Wednesday, October 31, 2012
We have been quite lucky in the midst of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.  We live roughly halfway between the northern and southern boundaries of Manhattan Island, but much closer to the Hudson River than the East River.  However, in our vicinity of the upper West Side, the land climbs quickly up from the Hudson River to the adjacent residential areas, so there was no water damage from overflow anywhere above the tip of downtown Manhattan.  Also, electricity never failed in this neighborhood, unlike the entire area south of 23rd Street, river to river.  Of course, the suburbs generally suffered the worst damage.  Friends and relatives on Long Island still have no power this morning along with 90% of the other residents.  We have not been able to reach anyone in Nassau County or Suffolk County since Sunday.  Some of our New Jersey friends and relatives have bounced back more quickly, at least in the power department. Aunt Judi and Uncle Stu took the prudent measure of reserving a hotel room because of the inevitable loss of power they experience during any sizable storm.  They don’t live anywhere near a coastline, but their backyard seems to be a natural resting place for falling trees.  So, they carefully identified a nearby establishment featuring backup power.  However, a cozy night’s rest was denied them when the hotel’s generator failed.  Fortunately, friends in another town were able to accommodate them for a couple of nights. Today, however, they relocated to Palazzo di Gotthelf while trying to sort out their options.  My brother, on the other hand, remained home, but only lost power Sunday night and awoke Monday morning to find it restored.

I never left home all day Monday.  Our friends Susan and Steve, who live in the adjacent building, came over for tea in the afternoon, and we enjoyed good conversation for a couple of hours.  Tuesday, I took a walk and did some simple shopping.  Broadway was busy with pedestrian traffic, although most stores were closed including Starbucks, Maoz (falafels), Subway sandwich shop, Trader Joe’s, Chase bank, the liquor store and McDonalds (which was already closed for renovations).  Only the pizza joint near 71st Street, some cafés (too elegant a description but no good alternate name comes to mind), and Fairway were open.  All the eating establishments were quite busy, occupied by folks from other neighborhoods and those locals who still haven't learned to navigate their kitchens.  There were a few trees and branches down on my path to and fro Fairway, but the streets looked remarkably normal.

Today, Wednesday, foot traffic was even greater than yesterday when I went out between 9 and 10 AM.  Most of the stores had reopened, except for Trader Joe’s which had a sign announcing a 10 AM opening when I passed it walking north, and then 11 AM when I came back.  Fairway, which had essentially no perishables available yesterday, was almost fully restored today including fresh bagels.  Strangely enough, there were no eggs.  Were the chickens still hiding from Hurricane Sandy or were they too frightened to relax their orifices and lay?  I knew that we still had some eggs in the refrigerator, so I bought some lox pieces to mix in for lunch.  While the fresh bagels were tempting, our freezer is loaded with bagels and bialys needing only 20 or 30 minutes at room temperature to be ready for action.

I expect to walk about again during the afternoon.  I can’t go to work because the courts in Manhattan remain closed, while the other boroughs are open for business.  A power station at East 13th Street was swamped by the storm-swollen East River, knocking out electricity for all of lower Manhattan, including the complex of courthouses around Foley Square.  I admit that I’m beginning to miss reading legal pleadings and turning to LEXIS and Westlaw to try to arrive at a defensible determination to disputes.  I need that apartment seller refusing to return the deposit to the buyer when the deal blew up, that guy who stalked a woman for over a year and then sued her when her boss complained to the cops because of the effect it had on her, that landlord who waited two years to tell his insurance company that a tenant fell down the front steps, that woman in the $11 million apartment who forgot that she left the water running in her bathtub while she chatted on the telephone, that adolescent parochial school student who fell down the stairs but could not explain why or where in the building that it happened, that real estate firm that wanted the commission on a commercial deal that was revived by another firm months after the deal initially fell flat, that prostitute who sued her John because the fancy hotel threw her out when she refused to pay for the spa treatments she took after he checked out.  Even with the added company of Aunt Judi and Uncle Stu, nothing around here offers that level of entertainment.  Maybe we should have all worn costumes tonight for Halloween.

Thursday, November 1, 2012
I shopped for some interesting items at Zabar’s this afternoon, including their salmon chowder and whitefish croquettes.  We didn’t have them for dinner, however, because Uncle Stu ordered takeout from Estihana, [Kosher] Oriental Restaurant & Sushi, 221 West 79th Street.  Adding to the buoyant atmosphere was the appearance of Uncle Myron, oldest of the Poloner kids, with his latest companion.  Even though these siblings are in frequent contact, with little going unreported in their respective households, putting them together of an evening produces almost endless anecdotes covering past and present generations of friends, relatives and neighbors.  The Kosher Asian food wasn’t bad.  The Shredded Crispy Beef ($12.50) and Beef Teriyaki ($19.50) (tell them to hold the baked potato) would hold their own on any menu.  

Friday, November 02, 2012
Our boarders left this morning and the courthouse remains closed.  Of course, even if I ignored my temporary unemployment and chose to pursue my gustatory passion, Chinatown suffers from the same loss of electricity as does all of Manhattan south of 23rd Street.  Now, that’s a tragedy.  

Bulletin: Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan completed the 2012 New York City Marathon in 3 hours, 2 minutes and 17 seconds.  What a great performance and a harbinger of things to come.

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