Hot mama in the city (as in sweltering mama in the city)

Picture this.  Alarm peals at 4 a.m.  Quickly checking flight status on computer, getting dressed, kissing sleepy husband goodbye, starting the car.  Glimpsing a bear lumbering into the trees as you turn left past your road.  Driving mile after dark mile after dark mile through the woods, headed south and west.  

Lightening electrifies the sky with magnificent eerie beauty.  Rain spatters from the sky, then ceases, then spatters again.  You want coffee.  No open gas stations, no restaurants.  You drive for two hours before a gas station appears and you gratefully praise the God of Coffee, never once judging it as “gas station coffee”.  No you sip it gratefully, as if manna from the heavens.

You follow the muddled Google map directions through the itty-bitty city of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, feeling like you’re totally lost and will completely miss your flight.  But–another gift from the Universe!–the directions work and you drive up to the cutest little airport in the world and walk inside to hear, “Flight 708 for Minneapolis boarding now”.  What exquisite timing!

Then you fly west before boarding another plane toward the east and eventually look down through the window to glimpse the Statue of Liberty on a small island below the jet.  And–hark!–there lies the hundreds of skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the long green expanse of Central Park–and now the pilot announces we’re landing in Queens.  Queens, home to cheaper rents and millions of multi-cultural families and your very own daughter–and there, here she is now, waving from the baggage claim in her pretty long black dress!

You step outside.  Oh no.  Oh NO!  Heat like you haven’t felt in months and months immediately frizzles your hair.  You’re sweating, carrying your camera and heavy computer, even though your sweet daughter lugs your suitcase.  You get on the most crowded bus in the Universe.  The pertinent Question is How do you get off this bus?  But, sure enough, it works.  You nudge your way through the zillion people and alight on the sidewalk, sweating more heavily, and your daughter takes you for a run through Queens.  (OK, a fast walk.  OK, I didn’t tell her to slow down.)

Confucius sits atop red stool. He was carved from a single piece of wood.

Some, just some, of Diaa's many books. (He is a student of literature.)

Plant. Table. Window.

Distant city of Manhattan through apartment window in Queens

Last time I visited Ms. Kiah she lived in Manhattan in a higher-rent district.  Now, she and her boyfriend live in Queens among Greeks and Egyptians and Indians and dozens of other nationalities.  Some of the exterior buildings look more run down, but their apartment is newly remodeled and looks  so inviting!  Confucius perches on a red stool, overseeing the apartment.  I feel at home immediately.

Sweltering, but at home.  We sip tea.  We laugh, we talk, we fall into our usual mama-daughter pattern.  She lends me a black t-shirt and a fashionable white overshirt which remarkably fit (how did this happen?) and I don a skirt and we wander off through the streets of Queens, searching for a glass of wine which later turns into a strong Greek coffee–frappe–which keeps the traveler awake.

Later we meet her boyfriend, Diaa (born in Egypt, but who attended elementary school in NYC) as the subway pulls up.  We were headed to meet him at a Greek restaurant, but Kiah spots him on the train.  Hello, Diaa.  Hello, Kathy.  Hello, Kiah.  I met Diaa once, a couple of years ago, at a restaurant where both he and Kiah worked, but I didn’t remember him from the dozens of introductions.  Plus, they weren’t dating back then.

Confucius ponders

Kiah makes a delicious lunch!

Typical street in Queens

I like looking up at the patterns of fire escapes.

Bikes. Shadows of bikes. Mural on city wall.

Look! Another lover of the woods in the city...

Outdoor vegetables. Colorful!

We ate delicious Greek fish and Peasant Salad and lemon-butter potatoes and drank some more wine and got to know one another a little more.  It was after 9 p.m., dear reader!  This Mama Bear from the Forest usually goes to bed by 10 p.m.  And she had risen with the stars.  Thank goodness for that strong coffee.

The young ‘uns saw that Mama Bear was falterin’ so they hailed a taxi–which didn’t look anything like a taxi and made the forest lady suspicious–but, sure enough, turned out to be a taxi which any self-respecting New Yorker would know due to the license plate. 

She fell in bed like a zombie, exhausted, and slept and slept, and sweated and sweated, and awoke to a forecast for 97 degrees today.  The kids are still sleepin’.  Mama is already hot.  What will we do today?  Will it involve air conditioning or perhaps sweating off calories? 

Simple beauty...

Stay tuned for further adventures in the Big City.  One never knows what lies ahead…

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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32 Responses to Hot mama in the city (as in sweltering mama in the city)

  1. holessence says:

    OHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh how WONDERFUL! love, Love, LOVE it!

  2. It’s a different world out there, isn’t it?? You have a great collection of images here, but I LOVE the bicycle in front of the mural – great find!! 🙂 Find an air conditioned spot to hang out in today – on days like today, I don’t mind coming in to work… it’s air conditioned, and my home is not!

    • Kathy says:

      Yes, Holly, the bike one was my favorite (that’s why it’s in high resolution instead of compressed.) Ohmygoodness, do you really begin to appreciate air conditioning on days when the temp soars near 100 degrees! We don’t have that happening in the U.P. too often. I can see why one would want to go to work.

  3. Nicole Smith says:

    How very exciting! Did I tell you Robert and I got to New York City last summer? The occasion was a conference but Robert managed to squeeze in a Tai Chi intensive session, wasn’t that resourceful of him?

    • Kathy says:

      I don’t think you did mention it, Nicole. Robert sounds like a wonderful travel partner! A tai chi intensive…wow! (We’re doing yoga tonight…that’s intensive enough for us, lol!)

  4. I lived in Queens too and those Greek restaurants were my favorite!
    Oh Kathy, there are so many beautiful gardens to wander in the metropolitan area.
    Or the MOMA museum in Queens is surely air conditioned.
    All an air conditioned train ride away.

    And, for the truly bibliophile, Bryant Park behind the main library on 6th Ave and 42nd street is a great shady place to sit and write posts.

    xoxo Have a wonderful time with Kiah! Love, S

    • Kathy says:

      It is makin’ me smile, Susie, to think that you once lived here and can imagine where I am right now. (Just like you can imagine the UP) The air conditioned trains have been heaven, as have the air conditioned shops and restaurants! We haven’t been to a museum, yet, but who knows what the next three days will bring? Luckily the temps have dropped and it’s now deliciously cool. We went to Long Island yesterday…fun day.

  5. Reggie says:

    Ooohh! I am sooo loving your travel report, Kathy. I always enjoy seeing the world through your eyes – and your camera lens. Hope you will have a fantastic time with your beautiful daughter and her boyfriend, and looking forward to the next exciting instalment.

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you, Reggie! You LOVE travel reports, I know. Your blog is one big beautiful at-home travel report from South Africa. 🙂 The only problem with travel reports is that it’s sometimes hard to find the time to blog during travels. Hoping to post another one today or tomorrow depending on schedule.

  6. jeffstroud says:

    Wonderful journey story Kathy! Such truth and humor! Love the Photographs : Plant, Table, Window is my favorite !! Yet they all paint a picture of where you are and what you are doing…

  7. Colleen says:

    Queens looks and sounds like a wonderfully diverse and colorful place to be spending time. I forget the name of those cold Greek coffee drinks (with the grounds on the bottom of the glass) but loved them. And Kiah looks so very happy. Have an amazing week!!

    • Kathy says:

      Do those Greek coffee drinks have an official name, Colleen? On the menu they were called “frappes”. Hmmmm…it was such a delicious drink! It feels like a lifetime ago that we sat at that cafe. Do you ever experience two days ago as if it happened in another lifetime? That is one reason I blog~~it feels like everything moves and changes so swiftly, it’s like water, always changing, never held for longer than a few seconds. It’s weird–even though I’m still blogging and talking with you guys, so much is happening–and I miss you all.

      • Colleen says:

        Kathy, you’re right about the name of those coffee drinks. It just sounds a bit different with Greek pronunciation and spelling. If I remember correctly there were quite a number of ways to order them. We usually said metrios?? ( or something like this) which was medium sweet and franogaleo??-something-or-other which USUALLY got us the version with milk……evaporated I think. It’s funny how coffee can be such a significant memory!

        And yes, I have similar experiences with time when traveling. It seems to take on a different dimension………

        I’m enjoying your travels and your writing. Very much 🙂

        • Kathy says:

          Thank you, Colleen. I don’t know why there is always the part of me that wants to stop blogging forever–to concentrate on being in Presence–and the part which wants to keep sharing, day in and day out. I do so appreciate you, my friend. You can’t know how much.

  8. Susan D says:

    I will just say that I love this blog … and appreciate your doing it when it’s so hot. I’m dripping here today so am not typing much. Hope you are adjusting and that you’re having fun and I know you’re having interesting experiences! Yay!

    • Kathy says:

      Interesting to think that I might have been dripping at home in the UP as well! I am glad you are enjoying this travel blog, Susan D. Remember, we’re going to get together sometime after I get home, right? 🙂

  9. john says:

    Now let me get this straight. The Yooper Mama is eating with her New York daughter and her Egyptian boyfriend in a Greek restaurant. (No doubt talking about eating in a Mexican restaurant with her San Diego son and his Korean fiancé) You might want to stop by the UN and give them some pointers on international relations. Hmmm … maybe if more people grew up in the North woods attending a small country school house the world might be a lot better place to live.

    • Kathy says:

      Gosh, aren’t we the most international folks, John? YES!!! I love it! Proves you can live in the backest of backwoods and still interact with the world. I love it that the kids have international boyfriends and fiances. Happy mama. smile.

  10. Dawn says:

    I agree with John…glad you’re in the city with your family! LOVE NYC! And Queens too. You’re going to find all sorts of interesting things to do!

    • Kathy says:

      It has been fun so far, Dawn! Love visiting the city. Love visiting so many different parts of the world. There are a million noises outside this window–different noises from the woods–but still interesting and intriguing.

  11. Janet says:

    I love that they have chickens in Queens (you can start with a mural and head for live cluckers!) Very fun blog Kathy 🙂

  12. Robin says:

    New York is such a fun city and it looks like, even with the sweating, you’re enjoying every moment of it. 😀

  13. camperkel says:

    It’s funny you call Rhinelander an itty-bitty city…I live slightly north of there, and that’s the big city!! Hope you’re enjoying your trip.

    • Kathy says:

      You are SO RIGHT, camperkel! I should have explained this better. We Yoopers would think Rhinelander is a metropolis. However, I was trying to compare it to New York City which stretches on for continents, it seems. Thanks for stoppin’ by my blog and for your good wishes.

  14. Brenda Hardie says:

    I love what John said, I love the picture of the vegetable stand and I love the one with the bike and chicken mural! You have such a good eye for finding just the perfect shots, Kathy! And wow, you were in Minneapolis for a bit! I was at my sister’s in Rosemount which is only about 20 minutes south of the airport!!! We were soooooo close! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us…reading your descriptions makes it feel like I am right there with you. 🙂 You didn’t realize you had a stowaway! 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Brenda, you liked best the pictures that I didn’t compress–that I left in big format–because I liked them, too. To think we were only 20 minutes apart. Do you sometimes wonder if that person sitting over there in the airport, or walking downtown, might be someone that you already know on line, or who might know someday? So glad that you stow-awayed, and that you enjoyed our trip.

  15. Cities are fun and diverse, but nice to leave its madness and return home. Definitely not so fun when it super hot. My vote for fav photo is for the window, plant, and table.

    • Kathy says:

      Jane, I love it when travels to the city help me appreciate the woods even more. (Our COOL woods…) Thank you for liking the picture.

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