Homegoing or saying Goodbye to a neighbour…

Recently, I wrote on my FB page about the passing of a neighbour :

“Another neighbour passed on…three deaths this month on the block, in ‘MY ‘HOOD’ . She arrived on this block in 1958 , way before it became ‘other people’s neighbourhood’. My familia arrived here in 1962. We are losing the old timers on my block, the TRUE neigbours who are replaced by neighbours I don’t care to know or have. Mi alma is overloaded right now. The passage of time is not always nice. Rest in blissful peace Mrs *******!”

My FB peeps offered condolences and encouragements to keep on being keeping on. One in particular, a dear friend and my priest, reminded me, I was not to forget at one time, we were, the newbies on the block and to give the new neighbours a chance.


At first I was frustrated, reading his response for I know of conflicts my neighbours of colour endured from the Italians and Irish groups who were here before them. These neighbours would spit on the sidewalk as they walked past. This was the year of 1958. By the time I was born in 1964, those same neighbours who once spat, cooed at me as their teenaged daughter pushed my carriage up and down the block. Go figure. Integration is integration, first met with fear then dissolved into acceptance, once we see the other as not being as bad as we thought. The daughter and her family are still on this block and I adore them dearly.

“The neighbours I don’t care to know”, are the young couples, the hip singles, the expats from Manhattan, looking to score a bigger apartment with amenities and a doorman. Who cares if the rent is twice what you paid for the tiny studio apartment in your former four flight walkup? These invaders are on the scene, invading my ‘hood’.

And that’s it.

They arrive and spread, dissimilating the makeup of the neighbourhood, forgoing ‘Good Mornings’, blocking the sidewalks while conversing with other arrivals about pilates, the new restaurant, drinks, backstabbing and eloquent gossiping (talking trash in my language).

I’m ranting.


I meant to write about my neighbour.

The one whose Home Going was attended by most of the neighbours on the block who laughed, cried and rejoiced in the stories of her life, her giving and feeding of everyone. It was a beautiful service which lingered on after the night was over and brought smiles to us neighbours, as we reminisced about it the days after. I will miss seeing her outside, sweeping and cleaning up or stopping by her place to talk awhile after finishing my piano lessons with her brother who lives upstairs.

I guess it’s going to take a while to get to that place where I “see the other as not as bad as we thought”.

I’m not there yet.images.jpg

And, may move before it comes.

Mrs ******* may not have been thrilled about the changes of the guard (people) in the ‘hood’. We joked and talked about it.


She always said “Good Morning” to everyone regardless if she received a response or not.

I guess that is a place to start.

Just say ‘Good Morning’.


***images from the World Wide Web***






Yesterday, I saved a dog on a Saturday morning in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

He was running across a busy street known as Prospect Park West, adjacent  to Prospect Park in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

I was on my way to work at the clinic about to cross this street to walk on the side of the park when a dog ran into the middle of traffic.


I ran out into the middle of traffic to stop the cars from potentially running over the dog.


The dog and myself were lucky enough to not meet HIM, our maker that day. I was able to hold back traffic but not the dog,  now running down a block. The Farmers Market was taking place at the time so lots of humans were roaming the area. I called out to a jogger, “Please grab the dog”. He did so, hesitantly.

I made my way towards the dog and slowed down my pace as I approached it with my hand extended. The dog sat down, tail wagging and the jogger released his hold on the harness.

I wrapped my fingers around the metal link and did not let go.

The dog had tags on the collar…!

This is not Gus but he looks like him.

This is not Gus but he looks like him.

I sat on the curb, with Gus leaning on me, as a small crowd of witnesses gathered. I called the owners, balancing the tag with the info and punching the numbers into my cell. Others from the crowd volunteered to hold Gus.

I declined.

I was not going to let this angel out of my fingers.

A voice responded to my call and the wife of the husband who was walking the dog in Prospect Park was hysterical. She was at work and had no idea this transpired. I told her our location and promised to wait until her husband arrived.

Meanwhile the crowd slowly dispersed as I relayed the information about the owner coming.

Boy…was I gonna be late for work.

I’ve worked at PPAC for over a year now and cannot recall a time I was late.

It was hard to move with him as he was too big for me to carry with my bags and I had no leash to guide him but we made our way over to a nearby bench.

I heard the husband-owner  calling to Gus before seeing him as my back was turned to the side. He ran up to us and Gus was so excited to see his owner. He thanked me profusely, saying I saved his kids’ lives because if he returned home without Gus, they would be devastated. He apologized and admitted while in the park with Gus, he took his eyes off him for a moment, and he was gone. He wanted my address, to send flowers, to drop off a gift. I declined and I stretched out my hand. He grasped it firmly and we shook. He had tears in his eyes and I almost broke down crying.


Prior to this happening I was making my way to work was feeling discouraged and experiencing serious second doubts about my career choice. It can be frustrating and confusing at times when doubt seeps in the alma.

I love climbing mountains, and I love challenges and I feel stuck in a rut right now-a rut caused by my own psyche and wanting to know everything all at once.

Gus was a sign, in a strange way. Meeting him on that Saturday morning was a wake-up call.

I am, where I am supposed to be right here and now.

When I made it to work, I was deemed a hero. I saved Gus’ life. The owner (wife) phoned and asked for my info to send a gift.

I declined…again.

I told her I was a vet tech and she laughed and said Gus was lucky to have run into me. She asked where I worked and I told her.  Hopefully, we’ll get another client.

In the meantime, thank you Gus.

Yesterday, a dog named Gus saved me on a Saturday morning in Park Slope, Brooklyn.


It’s been a long time…Part 2

It’s been a long time…

Since I swam endless laps in a deep-water pool.
Feeling the cool water massage my muscles as I swim backstroke, breaststroke and struggled through a front crawl. Gliding, swishing, breathing, in rhythm as the strokes are counted on a water resistant watch.

It’s been a long time…

Since I laughed until I cried.
Laughing away at some ridiculous joke or a comedy on HBO such as ‘Me, Myself and Irene’. Laughing till the stomach muscles tighten, taken by surprised at the sudden outburst of muscle spasm.

It’s been a long time…

Since I’ve been in love.
The kind of love that’s reckless, and fills the soul with puffy pink butterflies oozing with cotton candy, like the kind you tried for the first time as a kid.

It’s been a long time…

Since, I cried a good cry.
Actually, no, today I did, as I prepared Pucchi for his trip to the crematorium.
Pucchi, a maltese mix and client at the clinic had undergone 12 months of chemo and succumb to his cancer early this morning. I was there five months ago to meet him during my initial interview for the position I hold now and participated in his chemo treatment numerous times. His owner was heartbroken, as I was, but now Pucchi runs free of treatments on the other side of the rainbow bridge.

It’s been a long time…

Since I had a vacation.
Not the vacation the masses flock to but a vacation that is stimulating, active and engaging and requires allot more effort than lounging on the beach baking to look like a lobster, steamed and floating in butter.

It’s been a long time…

Since, I sat on the couch.
Reading, from my Kindle in the sunlight, all afternoon, listening to classical music on the radio and slowly sipping a glass of cabernet chased down with Godiva chocolates.

It’s been a long time…

Since, I fell asleep to the sounds of crickets chirping.
Under a star lit sky, where you could actually see each individual star, quiet, sleepy, cool night, no ac, no humidifier, silent, sleepy, sleep.

It’s been a long time…

Since, I had Pho.
Vietnamese Pho.
The kind of Pho you get in San Francisco, during a day when the fog takes a little longer than usual to lift away towards oblivion. The Pho served with shrimp and noodles, spicy, hot, comforting, warming like a serious hug,  uplifting. The Pho you can’t get in NYC.

It’s been a long time…

Since, I wore hot pants and platform heels.
Actually, let it remain, a long, long, long, long time I attempt to wear such a pairing again.
No, wait.
If I live to 90, let it be my celebration.
Ninety years old, posing in hot pants and platform shoes!!

Free At Last…Part 1

July 31, 2o13

After two- years working as an Admin Assistant at a MICA women’s’ shelter in downtown Brooklyn, (far from my ‘hood but going through the same gentrification which destroyed mine)..I am now FREE!

Free to pursue my interest…school and working as a Vet Tech Assistant

Free of an unhealthy environment…I no longer inhale crack cocaine, cigarettes or marijuana on a 40 hour five days a week basis

Free of verbal and abusive violence…some from the clients, most from the staff

Free of all medical and dental benefits…now is not the time to need an appendectomy

Free of a mediocre salary…now I earn enough to qualify for the status of “below the poverty line”

Free of working with others my age…we will not go there just yet, still adjusting…

As of now, I work one day a week with fill in days at a neighbourhood veterinary practice. The practice is housed in a four-story limestone building across from Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York, and a twenty-minute walk from my house. images[1]

The owner of the practice responded to my resume posted to a vet tech employment site. He called to schedule an interview two days after receiving it and I met him one day later, 6:30pm on a Friday evening. The interview was five minutes with a twenty-minute tour of the facility. I shadowed one day a week, (no pay) for about a month and officially hired August 1.

This was my third interview for a vet tech position, older in age than most entering a new field and thankfully this one came through! The owner was impressed with my cover letter, which, states where I come from-job wise and where I would like to go -passion wise. And yes, he is older than me, which I am sure helped in the hiring decision.

I’ve learned cat and dog restraint, how to feed a finicky chinchilla medicine and most importantly dodging lethal attacks from the in house resident rescue Chihuahua who has a thing for people of colour (he was found tied to a hydrant with his bed and it is possible he was abused by a person of colour, hence his desire to attack anyone darker than an office manila folder).20130804_151201

I also learned quite a bit on laboratory testing, administering meds with a pill popper and vaccines as well as aseptic techniques and medical jargon…this can go on but it stops here.

I assisted in an abdominal exploratory surgery. The poor doggie swallowed a rubber ball and only half was expelled. The rest? Found in his intestines, which were blazing red from the intrusion. I survived the procedure, did not faint and was able to monitor his pulse, blood pressure, and anesthesia and still eat sausage later in the week.

This experience is an exciting change from sitting behind a desk in an uncomfortable chair pushing papers and each day of work brings the opportunity to learn something new.

Summer time and the Sleepin’ Ain’t Easy

Summer time in Park Slope, Brooklyn is hot, sweaty, sticky and alive with vibrancy. Flowers and trees are in full bloom; Mr. Softy circumvents the ‘hood, fire hydrants spew forth NYC water through a sprinkler cap designed to conserve water for the fire fighters.

For some, it’s the start of long summer vacations, flocking to the country homes on the weekends or for the entire summer. For others, it’s barbeques in the backyard and entertaining visiting out of town guests or family. And for the other, others, it’s all about the summer food craze-Ice cream or Italian icies, outside brunch/dinner at a favourite restaurant, running through sprinklers in the neighbourhood park, or sniffing all the fire hydrants (the dogs-although some humans like to sniff).

Summer time in Park Slope, Brooklyn is oppressive humidity infused with dirt and pollution which adheres to the body. Water rates go up this time of year due to the countless amounts of showers it takes to get the stuff off. Electricity usage soars as air conditioners try to cool down overheated apartments and houses. Oh how I miss winter…

I do enjoy summer.

The fireflies, extended daylight, dew on the grass in Prospect Park, sandals, cold Chardonnay and tending my garden in the backyard make summer truly relaxing.


During summer…

Not only do the freaks come out at night

Those who drink too much come out.

Those who drink too much come out from the neighbourhood bars during the summer at 2am-4am in the morning.  Those who drink too much also come out in the winter at 2am-4am in the morning but my bedroom windows are sealed shut from the cold and buffers the tirades of those who drink too much.

I probably fit into the category of those who drink too much although my visits to bars are as infrequent as my staying up past 10pm. I cannot recall the last time I drank so much that I compare to those who drink too much who make absolute fools of themselves as they leave the bars to go home. I drink too much when at home with a bottle of wine, waiting for me after work then go to bed.

Those who drink too much leave the bars in chaos.

Screaming, physical and verbal fights, breakups, make ups and sex in cars take place during the 2am -4am hours and my ground floor bedroom window offers unlimited, live, in stereo surround sound and front row viewing to these antics of those who drink too much. Too lazy to leave the comfort of my bed, I listen as there is no mute button to push.  At times the antics have been severe and physically threatening and I’ve called the police. By the time they arrive, those who drink too much and their friends have left the scene.

Confessions of two timers, cheaters, “I hate you, you’re ugly” rants have cradled my ears as I attempt to fall back to sleep. Banging cars with their bumpers, as those who drink too much attempt to get out of a parking space disturbs my restful thoughts as I picture the possible drunk driver damage headline in next days’ news.

Every summer brings the same scenario. Every summer with the increasing heat index affects the air condition use.  Air condition usage means I close the window, obliterating the sounds from those who drink too much.




Park Slope Dogs

There are many types of dog breeds and sizes (owners as well) in Park Slope. One can observe how the two species cohabitate and relate to one another from daily walks throughout the neighbourhood, (Not the ‘hood’but the neighbourhood).

The relationships between the two are complex, dependent and co-dependent, smothering and domineering to name a few, but there are certainly types that stand out throughout Park Slope:

The wrong dog for an athletic owner

Roller-skating with a Yorkie stuffed in a black bag, its head peeking out through a top opening while hung across the back in 90-degree weather. Abuse. Get a pit bull or a greyhound that can keep up with the roller blading and leave the Yorkie at home!

The lazy, multi-tasking, irresponsible owner

The “Oh, I have to pick up milk for my coffee” or the “I have to get my coffee now” or whatever I have to pick up owner, who will take the dog for a walk and on the way home tie it a tree, hydrant, gate, pole, while stopping at a convenience store or supermarket. Left to the elements with no protection and subjected to a possible kidnapping, the dog is defenseless. Would these owners leave their
kids tied to a pole? Neglect. Bring the dog home, than do your errands!

The foodie, whose stomach leads while their poor dog must follow

The restaurant patron sitting in a booth, near the window, in air conditioning while their dog is tied to a nearby  hydrant, in the sun, as they dine on fine cuisine. Stupid. Drop the dog off at home then go out to the restaurant.

The Fashionista/Fashionisto

The owner whose dog is a fashion accessory will have the designer pocketbook and dog that fits into it likely chosen from the headlines in which a celebrity has the breed styling in their Louis Vuitton tote. These dogs are subjected to a method of travel that is questionable and lacking in exercise or doggy socialization. Dumb. What then happens to this year’s designer pooch when next year fashion tabloid dog rolls in? Moreover, heavens forbid the cost of that new designer tote!


You know who you are, pretending to be on a cell call, deep in conversation, while your dog does its business on the sidewalk. Of course, the
conversation is so engrossing and consumes all your attention that as the business gets done and the rear end rises from the squat position, you are on your way, oblivious to what was left behind. SHAME ON YOU!

Congregators and Strollers

The congregators and the strollers are two of the common types of dog/owner relationships seen at Prospect Park. During these special off leash hours, dogs have run of the entire park (no gated enclosures)everyday, starting as early as 5am and ending at 9am and again at 9pm and ending at 1am. For most, the decision to own a dog becomes a reality after spending time there.

The congregators will form packs on the vast lawn with coffee in tow and conversation of nothingness flowing while their dogs run around in packs. The owners absorbed in the conversations and coffees often neglect their dogs. The dogs in turn, big and small and sometimes puppies,  engage in dominance struggles, which usually leads to a small dog under the attack of the domineering dog mob. Meanwhile the owner, whose attention awakens to their dog’s scream, is of no use, because their dog was running with the pack and is far off.

The strollers will walk the length of the park, giving themselves and their dogs time to sniff and mark (the dog not the human, although some dogs may mark a human,) play and run at their leisure, while avoiding the dog packs. The bond between owner and dog strengthens and while training is reinforced and rewarded.

The ‘my dog is my child’ owner

A category I know too well for I am that dog owner.  Toby and Pi Patel are treated as children and that is not an understatement-just ask mom, my mom, and she will confirm it.

I do not have kids nor chose to. As I have mentioned before,“I chose dogs”. My dogs, the boys.

The boys eat kibble with vegetables, cottage cheese, eggs and carrots. They have a home cooked meal of brown rice, beans and assorted
organic meats for dinner. While both have winter sweaters, booties and raincoats, Pi Patel has pajamas. And, yes, both are Mulberry’s NY Press Show models for 2011.

Toby and Pi Patel do not go to groomers. For them groomers represent pain, fluorescent lighting and metal cages. The stress and separation (not on their part but mine) was not worth the $140.00 cost with a finishing cologne spray. Not having money due to unemployment was the initial excuse and after countless tries with clippers, super sharp scissors, doggie treats, bribery, I now comfortably groom them better (at least in my opinion).

My dogs, pampered, even had their own room in our former apartment. I make no excuse or apologize for the way I treat my dogs for whatthey offer me in return outweighs any criticisms or looks (Yes, they get looks of wonder when wearing their winter booties).

For some, the title of ‘owner and dog’ is exactly what itis. I am the owner, you are the dog, and therefore you revolve around me. For
others, a dog is a companion, with needs of its own that we as responsible owners take care of. Unconditional love in return for security, comfort, exercise and food-where else can you find a better deal?