Tuesday, August 30, 2011

8/10-11/11 Hanging with my two bros in Delaware

So when my (half) brother Aaron and his mom Pat decided to visit Emmet (my other half-brother)in Delaware, I thought it was a great idea. They'd stayed with me in NYC for a few days already and it was lovely and wonderful and I dealt with the fact that that'd be the last I'd see of them in a while. But when I got back from my five-day trip with Zack in Florida, I discovered that I'd have time to spend a couple of days with both bros in Delaware and I was thrilled. So I took a 100 minute Amtrak ride to Maryland. (Never riding Amtrak again, though. Not thrilled when I heard about a recent derailing. Anyway...) Rita, Pat and Aaron met me at the station. It was great meeting Rita for the first time. She's warm, friendly and lovely. I mean, of course she is. Emmet's great, so duh. We chatted it up in the 30 minute car ride to Rita and Emmet's place. Laughing most of the way, 'cause that's what Jolleys do. When we finally made it back to their place, we were all starving, so Aaron cooked up a wonderful Thai noodle dish and even made a special vegetarian option for me.

Here he is preparing the meal (and note that I didn't take my fancy camera on this trip, so the photos are a little on the lame low-pixel side):

Then Rita's doggie (named Majik) got in on the action:

(He's got the Jolley eyes.)

Majik was the sweetest thing ever. He never barked once. Not once. He was just a bundle of furry love that demanded a ridiculous amount of affection. I've never seen anything like it. When I came in the door he ran up to me and gently pressed his wet nose on me like a little nonverbal hello and then pried his head into my folded arms to force a cuddle and would not move away. That dog liked to cuddle like no other living thing. Throughout the day, he would lay/lean/push its body on me and then stare at me with those big blue eyes until I was forced to open up and let him in.

And get this! I never got a picture of the actual food. I'm a schmuck. Forgive me, but I was distracted by the delicious aroma of the hot chills and garlic and ginger. And then I was just so excited to eat that I forgot all about documenting. Hmph. It was goooood, though. I can tell you that. I knew Aaron was a great cook from when I was at his place in London in January and he made me a roasted red pepper soup with coconut that was off the chain. No doubt. "Tick tock and you don't stop." Anyway, after the meal Rita made me some chai tea with almond milk and also served some of her delicious baked goodies like these almond pastry things and little frosted squares:

We had a lovely time. Why don't I drink tea more often? I AM Irish after all.

Anyway, we hung out and chatted it up for hours, but made sure we were all in bed by 10pm, 'cause we'd be getting up at 4am (yes, four AY-EMM) to travel with Emmet to the horse stables to see him ride and train his horses.

I expected to hear roosters this early in the morning, but nothing. No sound. Just darkness and the sound of my slow sleepy breath. I got a picture inside the car at 4:30am:

Spooky, huh?

Even when we got to the stables, it was still quite dark...

That's Pat in the photo above...up ahead in the distance.

We were waiting around for Emmet's time slot to approach. He wasn't supposed to ride until 7:30am, so had two hours to kill and tried to make the best of it. Here's Aaron checking out one of Emmet's beautiful horses:

We also waited in Emmet's office...

This was the best place to be 'cause this was where the chairs were...and other items that one could sit on if one were so tired that one could not stand on their own. I sat on a box.

There was a (very very small) jockey being taken to the track:

The sun was coming up at this point, so we went over to the track to see some over the other jockeys and trainers with the other horses:

It was chilly as all heck. It was weird to be cold when by the time I usually wake up at 9 or 10am, it's 95 degrees, but my body adjusted well.

Here's the racetrack:

The horses were moving at a speedy pace (obviously, it's a RACEtrack):

We watched the animals go around once and then we made our way back to the stables. By this point it still was only 6:30am.

Here's Emmet brushing a horse-ee...

FINALLY it was time for Emmet to get dressed and ready to ride...


He kinda reminds me of the Marlboro Man.

We were so excited to see him do his thing.

Here he is (on the left in the pink shirt and red vest) riding his beautiful horse:

He had amazing form for a non-jockey. We (I) were (was) very impressed.

Then we walked back to Emmet's office again and I made my way over to the car and took a snooze in the front seat (I was feeling my allergies going nuts from all the hay and other barn things).

We left at around 9:15am and I felt like I was ready for bedtime all over again. How the HELL does Emmet do that every darned day?!

We made our way back to Emmet's place and I made myself some hard boiled eggs. Aaron suggested I  put 'em in an egg cup.

"A what??" I said.

Aaron and Pat made fun of me because I'd never seen or heard of an egg cup before. I grew up in the projects (and mostly vegan), so I don't know from egg cups. Poor people don't require egg cups. Anyway, here they are...

The little spoons made me smile. I mean, the whole scene was pretty cute. Then Rita confirmed that Americans don't really use egg cups all that much. Aaron and Pat were shocked.

I think I probably took a nap (don't remember) and then we all went out to eat at a steakhouse. Yes, the vegan went to a steakhouse. I got a large plain baked potato and a side of steamed veggies, thank you. It wasn't bad. Here a photo of the meat house:

If you look closely at the photo above you can see stuffed dead animals tucked away on top of chairs, hanging form the ceiling and resting on the window sill. There was even a stuffed bear:


My plain baked potato was amazing.

Then we drove back to Emmet's place and Rita and Pat dove me to the train station. We said our goodbyes.

I then took Amtrak to Baltimore to meet up with Zack at Camden Yards (he'd been there for a few days with a Watch With Zack client) and we all (me, Zack and his client) drove back to the city together listening to the Katy Perry channel on Pandora.

Wonderful two days jammed packed with love. : )

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My (half) brother Aaron and his mom Pat came to NYC to visit me...

For those of you that don't know, I have four half-siblings: Aaron, Emmet, Adam and Teresa. We all have the same Irish dad. (Click here to read all about how I discovered them only in the past few years and to also learn about the history of the crazy Jolley family.)  Emmet and Aaron grew up in Ireland (with their mom Pat) and then moved to France for ten years (Pat still lives there). Aaron went to Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and then moved to London last year to change things up a bit and figure out his next move. Aaron had never been to the United States before and honestly...he really wasn't DYING to visit. I mean, it wasn't his first choice of places to visit, but once he met *me*, he changed his mind and decided to check things out. He'd done a ton of traveling throughout Europe and Africa and India and so on, so compared to all of those very culturally dense places, avoiding the states didn't seem like he'd be missing much. The plan: visit NY on August 1st and 2nd and then head down to Delaware to visit Emmet (who trains horses) and his girlfriend Rita and then travel to South Carolina to visit our sister Teresa. Unfortunately, I didn't know their plan until only a couple of weeks before they were about to arrive and I'd already had plans to go to Florida (with Z) the day after they were to arrive. I told them that we'd have all day on August 1st to hang out and they could even stay with me while I was away, but I'd have to leave for the airport early the next morning, so we tried to make the best of our one day together.

Of course, we had to start off with the touristy thing and took the subway to the Staten Island Ferry:

It was their first time on a NYC subway and they were drunk with enthusiasm. I'd been telling them about the unnatural largeness of NYC rats, so Aaron immediately wanted to track one down and take its picture. In the meantime, Pat and Aaron couldn't get over how dirty the subways were. London subways are immaculate and actually smell like flowers (exaggeration). Pat wasn't thrilled about the thought of seeing a rat, but she still had a smidgen of curiosity. Aaron could think of nothing else, so as we were heading toward the ferry, we all searched the tracks for rodents. FINALLY, at the last moment before we got on the last train to the ferry, we found a small one sucking on a Twizzlers bag. : )

Anyway, here are Aaron and Pat on the ferry:

Once we got to Staten Island we didn't even step outside of the terminal. We immediately made a U-turn and boarded the next ferry heading back to NY.

We were starting to get pretty ravenous at that point, so I thought it'd be a great idea to take a trip to DUMBO and sit down for the best pizza known to man. (Not an exaggeration.) Pat and Aaron don't know from good pizza in London and France. People line up for hours and come from all walks of life (well, from all over the state of New York) to experience this special recipe of dough, cheese and sauce.

The place is called Grimaldi's and it rocks the mutha house. They do pizza RIGHT. We waited in line for 30 minutes (in the 95-degree-heat!). It kinda felt like we were waiting to get on a ride at Great Adventure. There was great enthusiasm as if we were on a line at great adventure. Like...a tasting ride for taste buds. Anyway, when we finally made it inside, we took no time at all to decide on two "small" pies.

Here they are now:

We ate it all up in no time. I mean, we seriously ate so fast the waiter was concerned. (Well, not really, but we did eat everything quickly.) Oh and neither one of them had ever tried Root Beer before, so we ordered them up some of that stuff. Pat said that it tasted like vanilla cough syrup. Aaron was also completely unimpressed, but still managed to drink it all. We laughed about how artificial soda is and how obsessed Americans are with soda in general...and with large portions.

When we left Grimaldi's we were stuffed and exhausted. And I don't quite know why *I* was so exhausted. I mean, they were the ones with jet-lag, but after eating all that pizza, I felt like I had been up for three days straight. When we finally made it to my house, we all collapsed on the couch. I had a lovely chat with Pat. She's very warm and engaging and simply wonderful. Aaron fell asleep pretty quickly (around 9pm) and I gathered my things and grabbed my extra key and headed out by 10pm and made my way over to Z's place. Z and I headed off to Florida in the morning for four days of baseball...