Monday, December 14, 2020

Our Garden Through Uncertainty


Our garden through uncertainty. 



It was all we heard on the streaming device. Crazy time. These uncertain times. The end of the world. While others said we used to be this or that, we said we’re usually a jazz club to those stopping by our 6-foot wide counter for an espresso. Our tiny candle-lit basement club once overflowed with jazz legends and up-and-coming virtuosos, who played shoulder to shoulder with their exuberant audience, was now silenced. 

 All of New York City had been hushed into sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. As many New Yorkers live alone, I ached for those without the comfort of connection. Walking the city streets left you feeling haunted and isolated. Unsafe. 

 Coffee was hard to find in the early weeks of March; an espresso wasteland for over a mile radius in my neighborhood where my husband and I live and work in Greenwich Village. When two large coffee houses on our block closed, and then the deli on the corner, it wasn’t just a matter of getting a steamy cup of strong, rich latte or chai, you couldn’t find drip coffee unless you had a machine at home. 

 We had to open. 

 Not that anyone was leaving home. 

 Since many people in the city had no kitchens, we became essential workers. My husband, always the coffee aficionado, turned our piston-lever Kennedy-era espresso machine around on the bar and we built a 6-foot counter, a barrier between the staff and customers. And we became a coffee shop to-go. Being a jazz club, we knew how to improvise. 

 It was a great distraction from the fear closing in, a distraction from my anxiety, my son’s anxiety, and the political climate in the United States that helped create an unfathomable body-count, still growing. New York City was at war with a pandemic, the illegitimate president created with his deliberate ineptitude. 

Our music club, a small business, had successfully become an espresso bar. A place to escape my young adults, a place for them to escape us, our tiny apartment, and learn barista skills. The to-go counter was bustling. There was little competition with the neighboring coffee shops, still shuttered. Plants and flowers overflowed from our counter-window. People often left dying plants overnight that we nursed back to health. Friends and neighbors pitched in and built the counter, helped served customers, and brought supplies when I couldn’t get away, and our neighborhood grew closer during the pandemic lockdown. 

 Our café to-go brewed local roasters and we ordered pastries from a friend’s bakery. Meanwhile, there were no signs of life at the coffee houses around the corner. 

 In the gloom of late March and early April, when neighbors passed and unexpectedly found us, their faces filled with relief as they drank some “damn good coffee”. They were ecstatic. Became regulars. And the flower pots multiplied. I brought roses and herbs from the farm market and slowly added more greenery and blooms. Without much money and not knowing the fate of our music club, when or if things would ever get better, much less return to normal, we kept smiling. 

Because smiling made me feel better. Helping someone else made me feel useful. Lending an ear to a neighbor who’d had no one to listen for months, I learned so much, and my optimism grew. As the dank spring opened to clear and sunny days, we gained more enthusiasts and soon became known for our freshly squeezed juices and frozen drink specialties. 

By mid-June, the city permitted restaurants to build seating outside in their parking spaces. Phase #2. We built a patio deck, added trees and shrubs, a picket fence, vintage gliders, and our parking-lot evolved into a woodland nook. People let us know how much they loved the new scenery, how it calmed them. It became a space for contemplation. Our neighbors gave us cards of gratitude and gifts. 

During the summer cocktails were sipped and our reputation flourished. Being a thoroughfare on W 3rd street, those trekking across town were delightfully surprised to find a locally roasted decaf coffee. We’d put as much heart into our decaf and we did our espresso and fresh fruit cocktails and smoothies. 

Given an abundance of chairs, we spaced them out across the street, allowing friends and families to form COVID pods, find comfort for a short stay, considering theaters, clubs, and parks were still closed. 

Black Lives Matter police brutality protests marched past. Every day. Peacefully. Usually, around noon, people gathered in Washington Square Park. There were often several marches a day. While one rallied through the park, another headed over the Brooklyn Bridge. Thankfully, I was able to join and march a few times. My city was ALIVE and I was right where I wanted to be. Witnessing history. Not hidden away in a second home. 

Still evolving, a friend’s refurbished bike shop set up on the weekends and offered vintage bicycles for sale or an opportunity for repairs. It was temporary, like so much else. After sunset, pedestrian traffic became sparse, our counter light gave our neighbors a little reassurance until closing time. 

Phase 3 wasn’t much of a change for our café to-go that’s usually a jazz club. We had live music again. Outside. And then, two weeks into our Brazilian Sundays, the rules changed. Phase 4. Musicians had to be 12-feet from the audience. This was quite a challenge for our tiny patio parking space. We had to stop the music again. Our professional artists are hurting, streaming is expensive, and reaps little monetary reward.  
The mayor has extended outdoor cafés until October. After that, what’ll our fate be? On September 30th, we’re told we can bring people inside the club at 25% capacity. But this comes with a huge risk. According to scientists, the pandemic is far from over. But we’ll be here for New Yorkers.  

We never left. 


ZINC BAR JAZZ Club & Cafe.  82 West 3rd Street  New York, New York 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Hive Mind ~ 1K Short Story

 



P.S.  I don't know what the heck Blogspot is doing to the formatting but it has become near impossible to copy & paste my writing. Anyone know how to fix this? 

  

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Boo! ~ Halloween Story Contest for Kids.

 

Doin’ The Skeleton Dance! Announcing The 10th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!


100 words using the words skeleton, mask, and creep.  





"Boo!" came from the shadows. 

Bubby jumped and smashed into the dangling skeleton. Its bones clanked down the stairs behind his jack-o'-lantern full of shimmering candy. 

"That'll teach ya' to sneak up on us," snarled three little witches. 

Pirate Kam and his ghost crew laughed as they passed. Bubby stood up straight. He was the Hulk. Impenetrable. 

He adjusted the green grunting mask and picked up his candy. Onward. Two more houses before he had to meet his mother and baby sister at the corner. It was getting darker. 

Where was his mother?

"Boo!" she said. 








The link to learn more about "Doin' the Skeleton Dance Contest"  on Children's Author Susanna Leonard Hill's Blog. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Metropolis Sent Me.

I have several short stories that haven't found markets, so I'll share here on occasion. This dystopian was written in 2019 and originally titled Slaughterhouse and it's under 1k words! I love writing short fiction between novels to work out ideas. Revising novels can take years. (I'm close to completing the revisions of a Middle-Grade Magical Realism story ~ While I await an agent's response on an R&R for another novel.) Writing short fiction is always fun. 



METROPOLIS SENT ME


 

The uneven floorboards creak as I follow the metallic odor, careful not to awaken the supervisor who supposed to be on guard keeping people like me out. Metropolis sent me.


It’s a death sentence to take a photograph. No one’s supposed to know this place exists. The ruins, the rusted leaking pipes dripping sulfur water, my mind reels back: pipes forced down the throats of unwitting birds and geese. Their stomachs pumped with grain and sawdust protrude out of proportion as they gurgle up undigestible remnants—humans could have eaten instead.

 

Fatty liver is still a delicacy to the Upper Echelons of our ruling class, the exploitation class, those who seek out our dwindling resources and gobble them up at their leisure. Even after the fowl disease stopped anyone with any sense. Not for the humans who pumped their veins with antibiotics, allowing them to continue their exploitive appetites.

 

Appetites that destroy our environment. There’s little freshwater or land left to farm. This factory is one of the few outposts churning out animal byproducts. The buffalo and cows died-off a decade ago, the rest of the land creatures drowned in the floods. Birds that didn’t escape were caught and now, here. It used to be only geese and ducks that were turned into fatty liver, now it’s any bird caught alive.

 

 

The camera I brought bangs against the side of my leg as I step over a bird’s carcass, the flesh peeled back, boney ribs exposed.

 

The others in my camp grew too hungry and tired for this mission. As a ranking member of Metropolis, I volunteered. If we release the caged fowl into the sky, they could eventually proliferate and maybe, one day, we’ll eat fresh eggs again. Until then, it’s snails and mollusks we fish-out of the tide pools.

 

I don’t really need the camera for what I’m about to do. But I want a before and after shot. Show the Caver’s the truth. Most, refuse to leave their cave dwellings in fear of viruses.

 

The birds sense my approach, fluttering, cawing, frantically flapping against their cages. “Shh,” I whisper as if that’ll do anything.

 

I’m here to release them.

 

“Who’s there!” shouts the guard.

I slide behind a bloodied cage, a goose’s one eye watches, and hold my breath. Heavy mud-coated boots pass inches away and I shrink smaller, chewing my lips shut. The guard isn’t much taller than my 5-feet. Stunted growth like the rest of us.

 

But he has a turbo. One laser beam in my direction, I’ll disintegrate into vapor, and then what? What happens to my little sister, my baby brother, our grandfather, what’s left of my family.

The birds squawk an ungodly sound. They’re ratting me out.  Sinking,  sinking.

“Hey you – the guard shouts, his turbo steady—“get up!”

 

I push the hair out of my face, so I can meet his eyes. If he’s going to kill me, I want to see it coming. Defiant, jaw set, teeth clenched, I charge forward. 

 

Tackle. I bite his legs and rip at his arms until I’ve wrestled the turbo from his grip, and now he’s up against the wall staring into the barrel.

 

“What’s your plan, young lady?” he says with a bored expression. “Ah… I may already know. You want to repopulate the planet with birds?”

 

I don’t speak and I don’t want to listen. I’m the one holding the turbo. I search the nearby cages for one large enough to set him inside.  “Over there,”  I swing the turbo.

 

“I wouldn’t release these birds if I were you,” he says.

 

They lie! All the guards lie to save their own bought skins. Living side-by-side with the Exploitation Class up on the mountain. It’s manipulation. I’d better hurry before more guards arrive. He could have set an alarm for all I know. The birds are worth more than gold was a decade ago. Food is our scarcest commodity. So are human lives.

 

“They’re sick birds, you know,” he says after sitting inside the cage. “They’re making the Upper Echelon’s sick too, haven’t you heard?”

 

“I know they’re sick.” I lock the cage. “Doesn’t mean the birds can’t live a natural life.”

 

“Cavers sent me,” he says. “I’ve been making sure those on the mountain eat every last bird. They’re dying up there on the mountain, you know. The ruling class is disappearing. Couldn’t stop their exploitation and they never listened when we, the scientists, warned about the health of the birds.”

 

“Shut up.” I leave the slaughter room and enter the office, pull the wires on all security systems, and return to the birds. Open the cages and I begin scooting the birds out.

“They’re sick,” the guard shouts. “They’ll be sick for generations.”

 

Ignoring the guard, I tip over the buckets—is that grain? I squat down and scoop it back inside. I’ll bring what I can with me. Water buckets, blood buckets, I smell ammonia and gag as I flip another bucket drum.

 

The geese squawk, webbed feet quickening as I hold the door open until every able-bodied fowl is outside and soaring into the chemtrail-streaked sky.

 

“Don’t do it!” the guard shouts. “I’ve been here for a long time, making sure no one releases the birds into the wild.”

“So, you’re just keeping them to suffer more forced-feeding. You’re lying.”

“It’s the only way to get the Upper Echelons out. They believe it’s their privilege to destroy every last living thing on this planet for their consumption.”

“No kidding.” I poke at two robins lingering behind while the guard rambles on and issues more warnings. “Where’s your tattoo?” I ask.

He sticks his dark brown arm through the cage, showing me the zig-zag river, the Caver’s tattoo and I take a deep breath. “What’d you do with the U.E. Guard?”

He shrugs.

“Either you tell me or you tell Metropolis,” I warn.

“I feed him to the birds.”

Monday, June 1, 2020

Make America Stop Killing Black People!



I Love my Brothers and Sisters! and I stand by them.

I woke up today to destruction where I live and where my family's small business, a jazz club, is struggling to survive and I marched on Saturday with Black Lives Matter!  


I went jogging after work and was swept up into the march.



Saturday, May 30th, 2020  New York City:


Bending a knee on Hudson Street in Greenwich Village 
A peaceful march through the Village and into Washington Square Park.

Black Lives Matter!



And then the Opportunists moved in a torched our town!   The Looters are NOT the protestors!

A lot of bad players out there taking advantage.

And we have an illegitimate POTUS hiding in a bunker!  Instigating this!!!

We need you, President Jo Biden!



#VOTEVOTEVOTE

We need to show up such large numbers, it'll be impossible for the GOP to cheat.  It's all the republicans know.  Cheat and lie and they need to GO!






Friday, May 15, 2020

Espresso, Cocktails, and Jazz at Zinc Bar's Cafe To-Go.


We're usually a Jazz Club so we improvised! 


Welcome! 
Your Host!
You Host!  Me :)


WE LOVE NY! 









Step Right Up and Order




Baked Goods from Grandaisy Bakery in Tribeca!
Pastries and Roman Pizza from Grandaisy Bakery





Our Mascota Stella Keeps Guard.
Our Mascota Stella! 







Until Next Time! 


82 West 3rd Street  (Between Thompson/ Sullivan Streets)
We have a couple chairs out in the sun  --- 6 Feet apart! 
DON'T FORGET YOUR MASK! 


ZINCBAR.COM

Sunday, April 19, 2020

What I'm Writing during COVID-19




All kinds of plans happen when you think about quarantine.  

But most of those haven't happened because my family has a music club in New York City that we quickly transformed into a to-go cafe for espresso and pastries (Grandaisy pizza as of today! More walking meals to come.), and I've been working every day leaving little time to write, paint or even clean my apartment. I don't miss this one, but you can imagine the state of neglected apt. --with four grown people!  ugh! 

While I wait for the YA fantasy I drafted just as we entered into lockdown percolate, I've decided to rewrite a much older novel. Actually, my first "trunked" novel. It's an upper middle-grade magical realism, maybe a fantasy? I'll know after more revisions. 


Today's research 


Auroras
Butterflies
Cleavers or Goosegrass
Crows


This was the first chapter. 

I love writing for kids and teens and writing fantasy that'll take me out of this world for a time. With tragic news every day on social media. (I don't have a TV, thankfully) writing and reading are my escape! I just have to be extra determined right now and find the time with the added responsibilities. 

I wish you health and wellbeing. 
"health is wealth" as my mother often said, I know she wasn't the first to say it.  


wash your hands 
don't touch your face
keep 6' apart

 and remember 


I wear my mask for you and you wear yours for me.  



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