Wednesday, July 24, 2013



Vince and I sat on the roof last night, the sun still high, the hose nozzle set to mist to keep us cool, and sipped our drinks and talked about things: Red Hook (the water, the old streets, the bad public transport, shopping at Fairway). The South African Consulate. The apartment next door. Staying put. Our basic necessities. Outdoor space and plants for me, also sunlight and a horizon. A place to run for him, and the all-important commute to work (soon to be the Empire State Building, when his company moves north, from the Financial District).

While we talked, I burned supper. It was celery, destined for a sauce for pasta, braising gently but too long, down below. I knew the minute I walked in the door. Sniff, sniff.

I had nothing else fresh in the fridge. In the Light of Uncertainty, I have imposed new austerity measures in the kitchen and I was using those outer celery ribs rather self righteously (the heart went into a recent chopped salad). Nothing edible on the roof, yet, either, except...pigweed.

Up I went, armed with a bowl and a pair of scissors.

Down I came with luscious weeds. I really do like them. It's not an act.

I scooped the gelatinous pulp from a preserved Meyer lemon, and sliced the skin into ribbons before chopping it finely. I wilted the pigweed in a hot pan with some butter and olive oil and lemon juice. In the blender I put the lemon, pigweed, pine nuts, more butter, a raw garlic clove, a few tablespoons of field garlic oil from the long-ago spring, finely rasped parmesan from the L-shaped heel of cheese, and pressed Destruct.

Boiled some tender egg tagliatelle. Drained, mixed and plated.

I'm glad the celery burned.

We ate supper on the terrace and watched huge cumulus clouds turn pink beyond the skyline of downtown Brooklyn. Later they lit up within as an electrical storm let loose, a silent morse in light. Above the terrace the sky was dark blue and clear with stars. I looked at the sky very carefully, as if it might break. I looked at the church spire in the east, beyond the silver roofs, and at the tendrils of the autumn clematis growing through the New Dawn rose in the corner, the mint like a forest in the gravel. 

Then I took myself back inside, also carefully.


  1. I love your Basic Necessities categories that include sunlight and a horizon. I have to have big windows that let in lots of light and screen doors (so that I can keep the heavy wood doors standing open for most of the year). For many years I knew that I wanted those things, but I didn't really understand how much difference they make for me.
    So, I hope you do get to keep -- or find -- sunlight and a horizon. It's important.

  2. I love when I burn something because the meals that I come up with after I've tossed the smoldering remains in the garbage are just wonderful. Your impromptu dinner sounded lovely.

  3. Talk about making lemonade....

    We all await your decision, some anxiously others eagerly.

    Whatever it is will be the right one for you three.

    And we'll all be here to cheer you on and help you pack if necessary.

    xo Jane

  4. Sounds like you are considering a moveable feast, or moving from your 66 square feet. This is always a hard decision for gardeners, even though I sense you do most of your growing in containers.

  5. This was a beautiful post. My husband of 30 years and I are having similar conversations all the time. Your cooking and gardening are a constant source of inspiration.

  6. Marie, your pigweed will grow wherever you put down new roots.
    I hate change, really hate it.

    The last time I moved, I kept my other place for 2 months so I could have the luxury of moving slowly (it was 1 mile away).

    Beautiful post, as always..........and I had no idea there was a S.A. consulate in Red Hook! and I have no Fairway by me, but we do have Whole Foods (not a fan).

  7. I moved the last time in 1985 to get a garage. I'm 61 now, unemployed for 2 years after a layoff. My sister would love for me to move to the small nearby town she lives in. The variables now are mind-boggling.

    You may want to make a list as you ponder, too ;)

  8. "I looked at the sky
    very carefully, as if
    it might

    Sheer poetry, Marie. Hope you dont mind a little poetic license in my suggested re-alignment. Good luck with
    the decision -- I still suggest Washington Heights. You
    could look for something near the 190th St subway station for Vince's commute ... and WALK to the Cloisters.

  9. Truly good love, truly good food and The Sky.
    All you need : )

  10. Jy skryf SO mooi. Baie sterkte met die besluite en implikasies van besluite. Dink aan julle.

  11. You are so talented and resourceful. I have loved reading about the garden, the food, and Estorbo. And I'm sure I'll love reading about wherever else you put down your roots. Best wishes for your future.

  12. Marie,

    I previously lived in NYC, and the first time that I took the train to Jersey to look for an apt., I thought that I would slip off of the face of the earth. But I didn't! It has great transportation, trees, grass, river walks and great food. You might want to check out Hoboken. This "mile square city" is a foodie haven and also has miles of river walkways and piers. I lived there for many years and loved it. Hoboken is expensive and you have little chance of a garden, but there are abundant rooftops. The skyline and the ferry rides are fun and refreshing. The sun used to set flaming orange on the World Trade Center windows, and it was a magnificent site! Mozzarella is made many times a day by women wearing black widow weeds. You can be in Manhattan in 8 minutes by ferry or train and 20 min. by bus. I know that you would at least enjoy a day trip in Hoboken, where the train station (historical marvel) has a famer's market. You might also check out Weehawken, which has a ferry, and some grass, and a magnificent view. Or even leafy Rutherford, NJ, a charming town with a 15 minute train ride to City, as well as a bus.

  13. You have a good track record for achieving Glory after moments of Uncertainty. So I am confident this will turn out well, whatever decision you make. If you move, several of us will form a flower pot (bucket) brigade along the stairs to move your terrace.

  14. If you are contemplating a move, do look at Hudson Heights (Washington Heights). Fabulous Hudson river views, Fort Tryon Park, the Cloisters, the A train (20 minutes to Columbus circle), NYC's oldest Co-op's: Hudson View Gardens, Castle Village, and the more modest Bennett (sp?)) Avenue with large apartments, many for rent. Look up the area's history. We recently closed on a modest, tiny apartment with a view that takes my breath away, every time I walk in. Now I have to learn to share one bathroom with a view....Geroge Washington Bridge, Palisades, up the river (north west). I'm told that on a clear day we will be able to see the Tappan Zee, Bridge, eighteen miles away. I will miss 57th Street the weekend boats, the walk to Lincoln center, but not the rent! GH


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