Gail and I visited CJ in Brooklyn to support her as she became a new Single Parent Without Partner. We arrived on September 11, more than a week ahead of the expected due date, and stayed until October 13.

We rented a room for our visit in an apartment through Airbnb. It was on the first floor of a older, three-story house. The apartment had be remodeled recently and was bright and clean inside. There was a companion house next door with a driveway between them and paved parking area behind the two. It was only about two blocks from CJ’s apartment so it was easy to go back and forth. An F Train subway station was only five short blocks away so it was easy to go else where in the city.

We shared the apartment with various other guests. There were three other rooms that were rented out. We did not interact with many of them although we had pleasant conversations with some. Once we came back from CJ’s around 9 PM, and found that one of the other guests had chained the apartment door shut. We couldn’t get in! We shouted and pounded on the door. Surely, we must have frightened the people living upstairs. Eventually, another guest came out of his room and unchained the door. It was a relief to have a place to sleep that night.

CJ lives in the Kensington neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Her neighborhood is like small towns used to be. There is a commercial street with locally owned stores, two grocery stores, small restaurants, specialty stores, three independent drug stores and one Walgreen’s, barber shop, a shoe repair shop, and more. There are no big box stores in the neighborhood, although Amazon trucks and other delivery vans are frequent sights. The only other chain stores in the neighborhood are a Dunkin Doughnuts, a Carvels Ice Cream parlor, and a T-Moble phone store. Branching off from the main drag are tree-lined residential streets.

You always see people walking along the street. There are many different varieties of people living side-by-side: short people, tall people, bent-over old men, young women with bared midriffs, families pushing strollers, people walking dogs, bearded Moslem men, bearded Jewish men, Asians, South Americans, Africans, and more.

Transportation is plentiful. The subway trains are the gold standard, but they don’t run everywhere. There are also buses, trucks, bicycles, electric bicycles, scooters, some motorcycles, and lots of cars. Many of the scooters are used by young men who are delivering food and who might be stuck in the gig economy.

Many of the people who own cars seldom use them. The side streets are lined with cars that rarely move. The only spaces left are in front of driveways that should not be blocked and directly in front of fire hydrants. A person can drive for blocks before finding an empty space. When an empty space is found, Brooklyn drivers are very skilled at parallel parking. For street cleaning reasons, people are supposed to leave one side of the streets empty for an hour and half on one day each week. The clever people here manage that by double parking on the opposite side of the street on that day.

The World Trade Center Memorial Light on 9/11

Street parking near the apartment we stayed in

One block of the local business district
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We came a week ahead of the expected due date in case the baby came early. It did not, so we visited several New York locations during the first week. We checked out the subway ride to Mt. Sinai West, the hospital where CJ was scheduled to give birth. The hospital is close to the southwestern corner of Central Park so we also walked a short distance in the park on a drizzly morning.

The sun came out on Thursday and we decided to take a walk. Green-Wood Cemetery, which was established in 1837, is the nearest place with trees and birds so we decided to walk there. Unfortunately, when we got to the nearest entrance, we discovered it would not open for a couple of hours. Therefore, we began to walk around the parimeter of the cemetery to another entrance that we thought would be open. It wasn’t. Having come so far, we continued around to the main entrance, which was open. By the time we got back to our room, we had walked nearly seven miles!

During this week, we also had a sight of the Statue of Liberty, 3 1/2 miles away from our location in Brooklyn, and of Brooklyn’s 1848 Borough Hall

Gail looking a little blown about in Central Park

The USS Maine National Monument at the corner of Centra lPark
Gail is on a wide, paved path with trees on each side This is a tall stone monument with a fontain at the bottom and gilded 
                figures at the top

The grand main entrance to Green-Wood Cemetery

All people die; some have grander monuments than others
The entrance has to arches with tall, ornate stone towers This photo shows a green hillside with tall grave markers

The Statue of Liberty seen from 23rd Street in Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Borough Hall
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CJ lives here on the top floor

Mt. Sinai West Hospital
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During the weekend before the baby was due, we visited Prospect Park on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, we took the F Train to the 15th Street station, and had a pleasant afternoon in the park with some of CJ’s friends. On Sunday, we walked to the nearest corner of the park and wandered along the lake shore, where we saw both birders and mute swans.

CJ in her apartment

Little Maya, friends Liz, CJ, Noa, Jeremy, and Pepper the dog in Prospect Park
Clearly pregnant, CJ is standing in front of her Murphy bed Everyone is standing together on a grassy knoll

Selfie of Gail, CJ, and Al by the lake in Prospect Park

We are standing with a tree and the lake behind us


CJ did not want to know the sex of her baby ahead of time, but there were hints that it might be a boy. It was.

Labor was very difficult for both mother and newborn. It began Tuesday afternoon and wasn’t over until Wednesday morning. Gail and CJ’s doula, Jenn, remained with her the whole time. On Friday CJ and Morgan were recovered enough to be allowed to return home.

Back home, CJ and Morgan had the job of learning how to live with each other. Gail and I took on the routine tasks: washing dishes, washing laundry, taking out trash, recycling, and compost, cleaning the litter box, and shopping for food and other supplies.

A week after Morgan came home, Brooklyn had a record rain fall, up to seven inches. It badly messed up transportation, flooding some streets and shutting down subway lines. New York state advised people to shelter in place, but the city’s school administration told the students to go to school. What a mess! We waded ankle deep in gutters to get to CJ’s. The staff in the local bodega were furiously working to protect the merchandise and dry the floors from the leaking roof, but they still were able to sell me a bottle of juice. The basement of CJ’s building flooded so we couldn’t do laundry and the elevators were not working. Except for wet feet and having to walk up eleven floors, we did not experience any problems.

The first time CJ and Morgan got out of the apartment except for doctor appointments was on October 8, nearly three weeks after Morgan was born. We took the stroller out for the first time. Mother and baby enjoyed the ride. He quickly fell asleep and stayed asleep.

From time to time, Morgan would become fussy despite having been fed. Sometimes, he could be calmed, sometimes even put to sleep, by the “Grandpa Dance”. That consisted of grandpa cuddling the baby and dancing rhythmically back and forth with lots of up-and-down and side-to-side motion.

Newborn Morgan

CJ with day-old Morgan
His eyes are shut, mouth open, and one hand is reaching towaerde the camera CJ is similing in heer hospital bed and holding sleeping Morgan on her chest

Gail with her new grandson

Al with his new grandson
tbd Al holds Morgan while sditting next to the window in CJ’s apartment

CJ with “Eggplant” Morgan

Morgan in his bassinette
CJ has Mrgan in a purple carrier Morgan is lying on his back and looking at the camera

Morgan’s first stroller ride

Holding his head up at three weeks
CJ is pushing Morgan’s stroller on a sidewalk with Morgan
               in the stroller and Gail is walking beside Gail holds Morgan and he lifts his head to look at me


CJ has two cats, Oliver and Zoey. Oliver is a big cat who likes to be fed and cuddled and fed and fed. Zoey is happy if no one looks at her. The coming of Morgan upset the pecking order. Both cats were curious initially, but fortunately, neither has reacted badly to the baby. Both returned as closely as possible to their pre-Morgan behavior. Since CJ was occupied most of the time, Oliver had to settle for any lap he could find.

Oliver would happily eat a day’s worth of food at one sitting, and then barf it up. Therefore, CJ got him a rotating feeder that gives him one-fifth of his food five times a day. For Oliver, the buzz that accompanies the rotation of his feeding tray is a sound of joy and he races to the feeder. Of course, Oliver would happily eat Zoey’s food too. Therefore, CJ got Zoey a fancy feeding dish with a cover that only opens when it detects Zoey’s ID chip. Oliver has figured this out and sometimes attacks Zoey to keep her near her feeding dish. But he can’t control Zoey and eat from her dish at the same time. Frustration for both cats!

Oliver cuddles with Gail

Zoey at her high-tech food dish
Oliver is curled up in the lap of Gail, who is in the rocking chair We see Zoey’s back as she is feeding


Driving in Brooklyn is an art. Traffic is heavy on the main street near CJ’s, bordering on gridlock at times. Double parking is standard, especially for delivery trucks. Right-on-red is a no-no in the city. Remember that. All the side streets are one-way. I accidentally turned into a street going the wrong way one afternoon. I was able to do a Y-turn to get out of it, but the drivers I temporarily blocked were not happy.

Parking is an art too. We had initially parked our car on the street, moving it when necessary to avoid street cleaning. Then, our host said we could park behind the house we were staying in. That worked until our last Sunday in Brooklyn. At 11 PM that night, when we were sound asleep, our host called to tell us that we had to move our car immediately. We struggled into our clothes while someone pounded on the side of the house. When we got outside, there were a bunch of people shouting at us. “Why were you parked back there?” “Who said you could?” “The police have been here twice.” We went to our car. One of the men from the front came too and stood in the garage glaring at us. In the back, there was one car in the open garage and another parked behind the companion house. In the past, I had pulled up behind the other house and then backed part way into the garage to align with the narrow driveway. That was no longer possible! I crept back and forth in the space available, but could not get aligned. With Gail's help, the best I could do was to get my left front fender and right side mirror into the driveway. But then I was stuck. If I pulled forward, I would scrape the right side against the house with great damage to both. Eventually, two teens came back and recognized that I was stuck. They convinced the glaring man to help guide us out, and he did so. We progressed inch-by-inch, hair-width by hair-width until we were straight in the driveway. We left and parked on Abelmarle Road. At 10 AM the next morning when we left the apartment, no cars were parked in back.


Sidewalk produce at the local bodega

Morgan not sure that he liked his first swing ride

Zoey trying to be invisible
Colorful fruits fill bins in front of the grocery store Barefooted baby looks at camera with slight frown The cat crouches on the floor and looks to the side

The house we slept in

Cars double parked for street cleaning

A Monk Paraquette in a spruce tree
at Green-Wood Cemetery
House with brick porch and bay windows in front The cars are parked under trees A green, white, and blue bird sits amoong needles and cones

Gail and CJ in a pavilion in Prospect Park

Going to the subway for the first time

CJ with her “babies”, Morgan and Oliver
They are seated on a wooden bench with trees visible behing them The top of Morgan's head is visible in a baby carrier CJ is on the coach with sleeping Morgan on her chest and 
                Oliver, the cat, on her lap

We drove home to Maryland on a sunny Friday, the 13th. We had no incidents on the way, but were sad to be leaving CJ and little Morgan.

Created by: Albert Holm, 19 October 2023; updated 20 Oct 2023