My last minute day
Where I spent Memorial Day
I was eating breakfast and on my way to shop for some food when I got a frantic phonecall from my mother.
"Your sister called. She's in Connecticut"
"She's coming. Finish your shopping fast. I need your help"
Now, I had suprised my mother yesterday with dinner from M&G Diner, a hole in the wall on 125th Street with the best fried chicken in the city for her birthday. Lucky I did.
So I figured today would be a nice day for some fishing in the Harlem Meer, pack a lunch, catch some sun.
Until the frantic call.
So I shop and then await my sister, her boyfriend and my niece and nephew.
Now, Jen had been offering to take the kids to MOMA for nearly a year. And since they never came down, we never had the chance to do it. So here they come, and Jen was asleep. She's been having a rough month or so, and I figured I wasn't going to wake her up. I'd wait until they actually showed up.
So around 2 PM, they all show up. We go up to see my mother and we stay there for all of five minutes.
Because my sisters have a habit of being glacially slow in going places. As in they say they're going, and then they go three hours later. Jen and I are actually pretty good about time and action. If she says she's going someplace, she's there early, if not on time.
I was hoping to catch her out of the house and in the Village, so she could meet us.
She was dead asleep. She didn't wake up until 2.
So thinking on my feet, I decided to go to the Met, which is a short trip from my house.
I have been going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art since childhood. So I know how to get around there. Which was good, because we only had a couple of hours.
Now, my niece, who's eight, loves art. She has several art books and her favorite artists are DaVinci and Van Gogh.
My nephew, who's 9, is just curious and since they're close, he supports his sister. But I had to figure out a way to keep them both interested. So the plan was to hit arms and armor, which most boys like, and then the Impressionists and post-Impressionists.
When I paid to get in, the ticket taker said "oh, kids, they'll love the mummies"
I said "no, she," I said, my hands on her shoulders, "she likes Van Gogh"
Jen calls me back.
She had just woke up and wasn't going anywhere. Well, it was a crapshoot, based on catching her out and about, not in sleephead mode. Which she was.
We talked for a few minutes, after being shooed to the lobby, and she apologized profusely for being a sleepyhead.
"I don't do last minute well," she said.
I laughed. I do last minute great. But that's me.
So we go through the Arms and Armor exhibit and I show the kids the various swords and armor and explain how people stopped wearing it. Most of the examples are from the late 16th Century or later and therefore decorative. They liked the inlaid gold and gems, as I explained the difference between rapiers, sabers and broadswords.
I then explained why armor went out of fashion as we looked at the wheelguns and flintlocks. One shield was filled with holes, bullet holes and crossbow bolt holes. My nephew got the point. We then looked at the ceremonial swords, which were more ranks of office than weapons. I pointed out the engravings on some. Then I showed the kids the decorated six guns and Pennslyvania rifles and powder horns. We then looked at the horse armor. I explained how the horses wore breast plates and helmets.
We then looked at the Middle Eastern and Asian Armor and I explained how they differed from the western armor we had seen before. When we got to the Japanese and Chinese Armor, the kids had seen examples on Cartoon Network. It's the rare kid who doesn't know what a samurai was now. Then I explained the difference between the western swords and a Japanese katana. But as I said, they were familiar with them.
We then went to the cafeteria. Which would have been fine if I was with Jen. I was with my eight year old niece and nine year old nephew. They were not going to eat ham and brie for lunch. Or a salad.
Three sodas, two cookies, a piece of pound cake and two bags of chips was $17.50. But they liked the cookies.
We then went to see the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. We looked at the Romantic paintings and I told them to remember how many details they saw in the painting.
We then walked past some Manets into a room with Renoirs. I asked my niece to look at a painting and tell me what she saw. And I explained that what was missing was detail. The earlier paintings looked like photos. The Renoir had more color and less detail, even though you could see what it was.
As we walked along, I stopped at a Seurat. I then asked her to look at all the colors in the painting. I then explained that the painting represented an impression of what the artist saw, not a detailed reproduction. We had looked at some Romantic landscapes earlier. So when we started to look at Impressionist landscapes she started to notice how the detail was subtracted from the painting as the number of colors grew.
Finally we looked at some Van Goghs. Now, I recognized them instantly, but my niece was unsure. So I said read the card. Which she did. So as we walked from painting to painting I explained how Van Gogh used different styles and the colors he chose. When we got to a self-portrait, I showed them how Van Gogh used a lot of colors in this self-portrait and my niece saw how the colors were used to create other colors.
Van Gogh Self portrait with Straw Hat 1888
Finally, we stopped at one of my favorite paintings, Monet's Rouen Cathdral, one of series he did. Again, I asked my niece to notice how he used color to create his painting.
After this, we were hungry, and after a souvenir stop, we got hot dogs. Three for $7.50
We got home and they were soon on their way.
When I talked to Jen, she had yet to shower. It was almost five.
I called her later to find that she was making coke can chicken, with lemon and rice and barley. She siad the McCormack's Chicken rub made an adequate substitute for my vaunted spice rub, which I have to make her more of soon.
I promised that since the kids will be returning soon, I would give Jen advance notice so I could take the kids to MOMA and the NBA store. My niece and Jen don't care much about that, but my nephew.....he does.
Just got off the phone with Gilly, and before I take a Sonata (damn, sleeping late on holiday weekends messes up my sleep cycle...) I gotta post a few clarifications/defenses:
--Gilly and I do indeed plan on taking The Kids to MOMA as soon as I get more than 30 seconds notice that they're in town.
--Gil, does that restaurant that you took Mom to do chicken and waffles?
--Yes, I am a huge sleepyhead on weekends. But I did in fact bathe and shop for the upcoming week (shop, that is, I bathe every day).
--Dinner: A sliced Roma tomato, brown rice and pearl barley cooked together with fleur de sel (gift from Mom), and Coke Can Chicken done as follows:
Take your chicken and wash and dry it. Rub with lemon, open CLEANED UP can of Coke. Rub chicken with Coke, then another squirt of lemon. Wear chicken like a sock puppet on your non-dominant hand while rubbing in McCormick's Spice rub with your dominant hand on the chicken.
NOTE if you have something better than McCormick's Poultry Rub, let's say, oh, some of the toasted or non-toasted spice rub that your editor/partner in Blogging has been promising you since Xmas, even though you even saved and washed the empty bottles from last time, and you've only bugged him about a zillion times about, like a toddler wanting the latest Barbie item, then by all means use it. I, however, had to use the McCormick's this time.
Then, set the chicken up on the can, like you just shoved the can up its butt or something. It should sit upright with no balancing. Make sure to pour out about 1/3 of the can of coke into the pan as well first. Put the giblets in the same roasting pan as the chicken. Also put in the lemon halves, cut into pieces. If you have room, shove a piece of lemon in the top of the neck cavity above the can if you want.
Roast it till done, at whatever temperature your oven behaves itself for as long as it takes. My old gas oven is so fucked up, I can't use the rangetop and the oven at the same time (a point I will bring up to my LL as soon as I sign my 2-year lease extension tomorrow), so I use Around 375 for Around 45 minutes.
When the chicken is eventually ready, take out CAREFULLY and tent with foil until you won't burn yourself to the bone going near it--at least 10 minutes. Using tongs and help, get the can out of the chicken without burning yourself. Gilly cuts his open; I use chef's tongs and a fork.
And yeah, I know they make special Thingies to Do this More Cleanly and whatever, but I'm cheap, and I figure if I only do 2 or 3 of these a year I won't be getting any more toxins than any other average day in NYC.
Oh yeah don't forget to cover/disable your smoke alarm as the singeing sugar really sets em off.
--Oh yeah and Gilly: Please fix your cell phone answering message and drop that disc in the mail :)
--One more shout out to Thomas in Berlin: I promise to get my VOIP working eventually and NOT send you my phone bill. Feel better!
Nitey Nite BlogFans! Happy short work week for our US viewers...and if anyone can find a link to the story I just saw on the news just now (must be too new for the night) about the guy who chained his wife in the basement with his two pet leopards in Dix Hills, Long Island, please send it to Gil to tag up.
posted by Steve @ 12:00:00 AM