Monday, June 25, 2012

Failing and succeeding at weekending

This weekend marked the second much-coveted summer Friday of 2012, so I was determined to make plans and follow through on them. Unfortunately, the best laid plans so often go awry.  So too, apparently, do the poorly configured plans of mice and men. A co-worker friend who also induldges in a little light gambling ($5) each year on the Kentucky Derby, suggested we go out to the racetrack. Spending a day enjoying a beer and watching the ponies seemed like a nice summer Friday activity (added to which the last time I was at a racetrack many years ago, I won $97 on a $2 bet on a longshot named Infectious Spirit). During the week, we confirmed that we would meet at the track at around 12:30, as my friend said the first race started at 12:50. It would take me about an hour and a half on the train to get there, but I had a good book to read and the whole day off, so it didn't phase me much.

I arrived at almost the last stop on the A train and journeyed with a sea of old men to the entrance of the casino and race track. My friend, who was driving had left me a voicemail saying he would be late, so I decided to explore on my own. Making my way to the track, I quickly discovered there were no horses anywhere. All of the people there were betting at the casino or on races at other tracks. I assumed that he had just made a mistake about the race times and figured I would wait until he arrived to sort out the confusion. Unfortunately, when he called to say he had arrived, he told me he was outside on the bleachers in a white hat. Once outside, I had a sinking feeling. I asked him if there horses where he was, and of course there were because he was at the correct race track. We'd previously discussed going to Belmont and going to Aqueduct but for some reason we'd never actually verbalized which one we would be meeting at. He had assumed the former and I the latter.

Aquaduct Racetrack. One of the more depressing feats or architecture in the city, as photographed from the train heading to Belmont. I would have cut my losses at this point and gone one stop on the train further east to get to Rockaway Beach, but the foreboding clouds seen here suggested that would be foolhardy. 
Not to be deterred by the fact that I was at nearly the last stop on one train line while the correct track was a bus ride after a train ride at the last stop of a completely different line, I made a game plan. By paying $10 for the JFK air train that connects the two lines, I reasoned I could be there in an hour and a half and still catch the last few races. This would have been a reasonable plan if, when I surfaced from the subway to wait for the bus, a monsoon hadn't hit. It was a full on thunderstorm, the likes of which I've seen only a handful of times in New York City. I didn't have an umbrella but ran for cover in the bus stop. There was so much wind and rain though that I was soon completely soaked. No matter! Eventually the correct bus came, and I was able to spend the next 20 minutes drying off and enjoying the ride. At some point, I got a text from my friend that races were suspended do to the aforementioned monsoon and that he was probably going to take off soon. I quickly called him to ask him to wait (since one of the only reasons I was persevering in this ridiculous commute was because he'd promised me a ride home). He didn't pick up and I had no idea how close I actually was to Belmont, so I got off the bus and headed for home. At some point he did call me to say he'd wait for a bit and that racing was about to resume, but at that point I was heading back and had decided 5 hours was plenty to spend in pursuit of horse racing. On the plus side, I'm almost done with my book for book club.

Who needs parks? In New York we picnic in the streets. 
The rest of the weekend was far more successful however. For one it was sunny nearly the entire time, and I took advantage of that by picnicking, attending the Renegade Craft Fair, and going to see a movie at the Nitehawk (which is an indoor theater, so it really wasn't taking advantage of the lovely weather at all, but on the plus side, it's one of those theaters where they serve you beer and food during the movie). We saw Moonrise Kingdom which was silly but fun.

A lovely day at the Renegade Craft Fair.

Mostly unrelated, but last week was my turn to volunteer at the farm share. This means that after the people at the church that we donate extra veggies to had taken their fill, there was still tons of kale that was just going to composted. I didn't want to see it all go to waste, so I ended up taking home about 4 pounds of kale. Normally, I either saute it or make kale chips, but the sheer abundance of it coupled with the fact that it was 90 degrees last week, made me look for alternatives. I found this delicious kale salad which I not only made in gigantic quantites for myself but brought to the picnic on Saturday. The only change I made was leaving out the currants because I'm not huge on dried fruit in salads and the dressing was already sweet enough. Very much recommended. 

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