We drove to Brooklyn on Saturday, May 25, to help CJ celebrate her completion of the Master’s of Dance Education program at Hunter College. We stayed in a room we rented through Airbnb. The Victorian house we were in was a speakeasy during the 1920s, a synagogue more recently, and now also contains the Beverley Social Club where space for events and celebrations can be rented.

CJ quickly hustled us along to Prospect Park, where her friend Elena was having a picnic in celebration of Elena's upcoming graduation with a Master’s, also from Hunter College but in Social Work. There we met other members of the Brooklyn Friends Meeting, which both CJ and Elena attend. Elena is also a Sandy Spring Friends School alum, but more recently than CJ.

From the picnic, we went to the Park Slope Food Co-op for supplies for CJ’s Memorial Day picnic, back to CJ’s apartment to store the supplies, to Wheated Restaurant for a pizza dinner, and finally into Manhattan for Contra dancing. Gail and I had missed the dance lesson and had already walked nearly five miles so we sat this one out. We did enjoying watching the swirling motion and listening to the live musicians.

Elena’s picnic

Contra dancing in the gym of Manhattan’s Church of the Village

Sunday morning we attended the Brooklyn Quaker Meeting. While meditating there I noticed the decorative curves - a curved, overhanging wall, finials on the railings, fancy window frames. When you look at older buildings that frequently line the streets of Brooklyn, even the house we were staying in, you will see that they have ornate features to make them more interesting to the eye. In contrast, most modern buildings are simple, utilitarian boxes, boring to the eye. Now if the universe were created by an intelligence - something I consider very, very unlikely - that intelligence would have designed in complexity to avoid it being boring. Thus, you would see objects composed of atoms, atoms composed of protons, electrons, and neutrons, subatomic particles composed of quarks, quarks composed of who knows what - strings?. You would find contradictions like things behaving like particles sometimes and waves sometimes, like quantum theory and relativity theory being at odds. Physicists are not bored yet and may never get to a point where the universe can be fully understood.

Sunday afternoon we went to Battery Park, on the southern tip of Manhattan, and then took the ferry for a tour of the Statue of Liberty. At Battery Park, we saw Veterans for Peace honoring fallen soldiers and a memorial for 5,000 Americans who gave their lives defending the Atlantic coast during WWII. We also had lunch and purchased the last tube of sun screen from a vendor in the terminal for the Staten Island Ferry.

Neither CJ nor I had ever been to the Statue of Liberty, and Gail had only been there during her high school trip. I got tickets to visit the pedestal at the last available time about a month and a half earlier. Tickets to visit the crown are not available before October. We went through two security screenings, once to get on the ferry and a second to enter the pedestal. At the second screening, Gail’s fingernail scissors were confiscated. From the pedestal, you get a good view of lower Manhattan and the harbor, but see very little of the statue itself. A brand new museum of the statue just opened on the island. We entered it, but almost immediately we were shooed out when security discovered an unattended package.

We ended our Manhattan visit with dinner at Fraunces Tavern, possibly the the oldest building on Manhattan and a place that hosted George Washington.

Memorial for the Atlantic Coast defenders

Veterans for Peace honor their fallen comrades

From Battery Park, Liberty towers above commerce

The Statue as viewed from the pedestal

Lower Manhattan seen from the pedestal

Gail and CJ below the Statue of Liberty

In the new museum, Liberty’s original lantern

Fraunces Tavern - bring your flashlight to read the menu

On Monday CJ hosted a picnic in her back yard to celebrate her coming graduation.

CJ’s backyard picnic

A champagne toast

Krista made a chocolate pie

Little Sepo brought smiles

Alisha, CJ, and Elena happy about their new Master’s from Hunter

CJ with her parental units

Tuesday was back to work for CJ, although she would participate in a graduation ceremony for the School of Education that evening. She had planned to have Gail and me observe in her classroom while she taught. Unfortunately, there was an under publicized rule that she had to get prior permission from the principal for visitors, so that was cancelled. While she taught, Gail and I visited the beach at Coney Island, got rained on, had lunch at Cinco de Mayo, and sheltered from the rain in the public library on Cortelyou.

We met with CJ again at the D train station and took the train to Manhattan for the ceremony at Hunter College. This was followed by a reception for the master's students in the Lincoln Center program. We came out to heavy rain and eventually a thunder storm, but we managed to get to The Farm for a celebratory meal.

Public School K721, where CJ teaches

At Coney Island, a juvenile Great Black-backed Gull
with too much to swallow

The new Master of Dance Education

Crossing the stage at the department ceremony

Graduates in the Master of Dance Education program

About to enter Madison Square Garden for the college ceremony

CJ was recognized with a special award for her skills in her classroom

Hillary Clinton gave the commencement speech

Visiting New York City A beaded steer skull at the Cinco De Mayo restaurant
Be prepared to walk. On Saturday, our first half day, I walked 13,000 steps. On Sunday, 13,800; on Monday, 10,000; on Tuesday, 20,000, and Wednesday, 10,000. Stay healthy!

In New York, you can find the big chain stores, the Targets, the MacDonalds, the Hooters, the Dunkin Doughnuts, the Macys - wait, Macys belongs here on 34th Street! - but walking down the streets, what you mostly see are one-off, local shops. Within a few blocks of CJ’s apartment on the edge of the Kensington and Flatbush neighborhoods, are lots of restaurants - Pakistani, Mexican, Tibetan, Italian, German, American, etc. There are two 24-hour car washes, a used car dealer, several bodegas and a small supermarket, a restaurant equipment supplier, a bicycle shop, two building supply stores, three auto repair shops, and more. The retailers speak English, Arabic, Spanish, Yiddish, even Russian.

New Yorkers are nice people. CJ wore her graduation robes from home in Brooklyn to the ceremony in Madison Square Garden and all along the way people would congratulate her. Put them in cars, however, and they go for the horn.

CJ has two cats, Oliver and Zoey. If you are very quiet and patient, you might see Zoey. You will definitely see Oliver. Watch him carefully or you will see him jump on the table.

On Coney Island Avenue, a pharmacy provides service in Russian
as well as English

A few of the shops on Coney Island Avenue

Oliver, Master of CJ’s apartment

Oliver’s master

Responsible: Albert Holm
Created: 9 June 2019; Updated: 1 May 2021