Then February zapped by because it IS really a short month! Thanks to our new President, people seemed to have been seeking more "comfort" and I sold good amount of Niku Jaga, our comfort food champion. Then there were Valentine's Day which doesn't have much effect for us (what, are we not romantic enough for ya??) and a few days later, SOY's 15-year anniversary!! 15 years of SOY, 23 years on Suffolk Street, 25 years of Lower East Side, 27 years of Manhattan, all of my adult years in America. All feels like maybe three years, or at least about half a century, which I haven't lived (phew, but getting close). All these reminiscing is also due since Taiyo and I along with SOY are relocating 90-mile north to a cute little Hudson Valley town of Rosendale in about two month. We are very excited and maybe a bit scared. We've never lived in a "country." But certainly grass is greener in upstate. So please come see us soon. Not tomorrow because we're closed on Wednesdays.
So there was Festivus, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year. Then in this new year 2017 two weeks have passed in about two seconds. Seriously. Life sometimes feels like a Kurt Vonnegut novel. Comical and sad. Absurd and complex. Time travels. And so on.
Anyway, for Taiyo the new year began with this super rich deep fried brioche french toast with fruits and bacon. For many years my new year's resolution was to blog every week, or just little bit more. Of course this was never achieved so lately I would not set any goal I cannot make. Besides, how could I dramatize and recite my life in public space when my actual life feels like just so full of it? Non-responsive o,p, and l keys on my laptop were also to be blamed. And it's all because of Donald Trump anyway. It's like Mercury retrograde- we've got someone to blame everything on for the next 4 years (maybe.)
I've installed a new "SOY" sign above the restaurant this morning. It's made of plastic mega blocks I've been trying to get rid of since early this year. I finally found perfect use for them! It was a fun project, and I got so many compliments while installing them.
This picture from last Halloween turned out to be the last photo I have of the previous sign. It was completely destroyed during the building exterior clean-up a few months ago, and the contractors scraped everything off and painted over.
This sign was the first one from the very beginning of SOY in 2002. I've made them with glass tile pieces. Some of the tiles had fallen off, and paint was peeling all over the place in such a beautiful way. Some people had suggested maybe it was time to re-do. But I loved it since it looked old, and scenes of urban decay and ruins were my deep attraction to this neighborhood when I arrived here in 1990.
Recently I discovered that you can see the history of the street view on google maps. When you look up 102 Suffolk Street, the current view is from 2014. Then there's pull-down menu on upper left hand corner where you can pick the view from previous photos starting 2007. In 2007, you don't see SOY at all because there was a big moving truck parked in front. In 2011, I had a "caught on camera" moment walking out of SOY with an empty stroller. I was puzzled to see an empty stroller- where was Taiyo? Well, he was way ahead of me, walking toward Delancey. A lady walking behind him if worried and turning behind her to see if anyone is running after him.
By the way, the strange art/toy installation almost made the whole month. Elmo in the middle was stolen about a week ago. I will have to fill the void.
Oh, boy. We did it again. We are about to see another year gone by. Oh, well, what a year it's been! Later part of the year was literally disastrous, except the result of the presidential election. Well, at least this month we survived another end of the world and a major holiday that always makes me feel like an orphan. I just don't celebrate Christmas, ok? I don't have any reason to. So we went to chase chickens at the garden. These chicks made their seasonal migration from Governor's Island to our garden, and they gave us good enough excuse to stick around the neighborhood this holiday season. We've been harvesting fresh eggs when we go to take care of them. Taiyo went berserk when I boiled them back in the restaurant, since he thought he was going to hatch them. But as soon as he tasted the boiled egg, he decided to just eat them all.
Later we did go celebrate a little bit of Christmas with Kristof's family in Greenpoint. Somehow, Taiyo decided to put on his Spiderman's costume. I said, why not, since it's getting too tight on him. They had some beautiful traditions like having an empty seat with food for a 'traveler' or anyone who happened to walk in the door, even a burglar, to join the dinner, or sharing bread with everyone around the room. The rest of my four-day off was super mellow, and it was good too. Getting ready for count-down- another quiet half-week off.
as we leave November, here's some more things happened...
Thanksgiving! My favorite holiday! We began our tradition at Union Square Market, shopping for some fresh herbs and produce for the special dinner. The holiday market was already open on the other side of the park. Taiyo walked around burying his face into a big blueberry muffin, entertaining other market shoppers. In the evening we survived the crowd for the balloon inflation by the Natural History Museum uptown. How they barricade these events and create more chaos is so crazy and unfortunate. It really takes so much fun out of it. We used a shortcut to enter the balloon viewing from subway station, but then at the end of the block they forced us to exit and find our way through the sea of people across Columbus Avenue because that was the official 'entrance' to the event. And the other side was ridiculously crowded and less enjoyable anyway. Next year, we'll do just the half of the balloons and go home happily.
Next day at seven o'clock, my Thanksgiving dinner was ready at it's perfection. My shio-koji-brined turkey was so tender wings fell off when I picked it up from the roasting pan. Then there was of course my famous sausage stuffing with apples and cashews. Mashed potato was lightly herbed with dill, accompanied by herbed miso gravy sauce(Tim called it 'divine') brussels sprouts with bacon, roasted cauliflower with crushed garlic and pine nuts, sweet potato and corn casserole, Japanese potato salad, green salad with ume-shiso dressing, plus roasted fall vegetables Kathy brought in. So 12 adults and one 3-year-old feasted and they all said it was a great dinner and I totally agree. There's no photos to prove since my little camera was in the repair and our new toy iPad mini didn't arrive from China for a few more days.
How ironic was the title of my last entry. A week ago, my dear neighbor from the salon next door, Akiro san, passed away after years of battle with cancer. His farewell party was on Saturday night, which I had an honor of serving some food. It was quite a turn-out as expected. Many of his loyal customers also became mine, since he often sent them my way, and I also befriended his employees who were also my neighbors. Seeing all the people who took over the sidewalk Saturday night, I realized the depth of his six-degrees. He was mostly a quiet neighbor, not extremely chatty, but still sweet and generous. He was also a character, everyone will tell you. For many years, he would go with his dog to dine out, which I was invited to join them one night. I also got many hair-cuts from him, but he always wanted make me look like a 'lady' which I didn't feel appropriate for me. I met so many people through him, and some people I've met already knew him anyway. But the most painful memory associated with this event was the fact that I've lost a dear friend in that very space next door years before Akiro moved in. It was in the spring of 2001, before 9-11, before SOY. I never told Akiro, but he left a part of the space raw, a large mirror near the back wall, that he used while cutting hair to see the side view. I always loved to see that still there while getting my hair-cut. So this weekend was so overwhelming with memories of Akiro and Bartholomew. I know that Bartholomew's spirit tried to protect Akiro, since he was a cool good neighbor, but Akiro couldn't beat the disease. He loved my Tofu Steak and Cod with ginger sauce. Sometimes he would ask for ramen with a croquette on top, which is a funny thing in Japanese standard. Farewell, and rest in peace my friend Akiro. His six-degrees will continue for many years to come.
One extra day for the month didn't make any difference. February went just as fast. February was SOY's 10 year anniversary, which came and went quietly since I never made a proper announcement. I was too busy training newcomers and couldn't plan a celebration much deserved. Ten years- it went so quickly it feels like maybe only a few years have passed. Same goes for raising a child, everyone says. This lady we ran into occasionally at the laundromat kept talking about how quickly they grow up- her oldest is 26 years old. Taiyo is almost 2.5 years old and he is indeed growing up in frightening speed. This morning he looked up at me and asked, "Are you ready, mama?" Sometimes he's ready before me. Downstairs he sat in the stroller and yelled, "Are you ready? Let's go. Move it!" I took the jogging stroller out in the miserable drizzling rain while he comfortably took a nap under the bubble. It felt really good to be on the road.
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