My newest novel takes place in a Yoga Bootcamp. It’s run by an unorthodox American swami who’s also known as Elvis or Big Pumpkin, for good reasons. His followers think he’s divine, and they’re out to spread the word as yoga itself is first becoming popular across the nation.
Each of them has moved to his farm to intensify their practice. What they find has as much to do with cleaning toilets or weeding the garden as does standing on their heads in exercise class. Even a single day can embrace eternity as well as a cosmic sense of humor.
Mysticism? It’s largely quite down-to-earth, as you’ll see.
The novel is being published and released today at Smashwords.com. And that certainly has me levitating.
I know where I’m getting the candy rocks and gummy fish to decorate my gingerbread lighthouse this Christmas. And it’s also a great place for guys to find great little gifts for the significant other in their life, something that usually confounds us. It’s even a fun place to take her on a stroll around town. (Think cheap date.) You can sit in air-conditioned comfort while savoring the yummy ice cream. Or even keep a bunch of kids happy.
We’re hoping Lickees & Chewies Candies & Creamery catches on. It seems to have its act together, blending several types of economically marginal stores into one.
Key to everything is its location, across from the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire and above Noggin’s toys on the ground floor of the historic Cocheco Millworks downtown. The one drawback is that the entry is on the other side of the building, away from those two kid magnets.
But once you’re inside, you’ve entered a whole different world. It smells richly mysterious, largely from the chocolate bakery. There are maps with pushpins where customers indicate where they’ve visited from, and there are metal rings on strings you can swing toward hooks in the wall if you’re feeling playful.
There are more classic games in the sitting area, which includes a large round table suitable for a birthday party, actually. Or just resting or looking at the views out the window.
So one part of the operation is the ice cream counter, with an emphasis on creamery. But remember, this place is loaded with candy, as in toppings.
Then there’s the old-fashioned candy store itself, with about every brand you can imagine. The entrepreneurs don’t proclaim their organization or knowledge of the field, but it’s there – Southern candies in this part, German in that – even before you get to the saltwater taffies. Many of the smaller wrapped bits haven’t been a penny apiece for sometime, but that’s its groove anyway. After all, the idea is to fill your own bag.
Yet another part is the fine chocolatier. This is where to find a gift to impress, maybe even a new client. And there’s plenty of room to grow to the side.
They make the most of the historic textile mill space. The ceilings are tall, with bare wood posts. The lighting is warm, tasteful, with some German Black Forest kinds of surprises befitting a fairy-tale atmosphere in the evening.
It’s been here a year already, but I’ve just discovered it. I’m definitely anticipating getting back before Christmas.
Brooklyn has long been overshadowed by its more commanding neighbor, but it is undergoing a renaissance among trendsetters.
Here are ten random bits about the borough also known as Kings County.
If New York City were dissolved and the borough became an independent city, it would be the nation’s third largest, after Chicago and Los Angeles. It was merged into New York City in 1898.
Forty-five percent of the population speaks a mother language other than English.
The Brooklyn Museum houses the city’s second-largest public art collection. It is especially renowned for its Asian collection. At least on the days when those galleries are open. There are serious budgetary problems.
The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, founded in 1899, is the oldest such institution in the nation.
Coney Island on the Atlantic has undergone a rebirth an amusement park. It’s also famed for Nathan’s hot dogs.
Prospect Park, 585 acres, was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux. It includes a zoo and a 60-acre lake.
The Pratt Institute, one of the leading fine arts schools, is situated in Clinton Hill.
Subway stations: 157.
Public schools: 540.
Crime: The acting district attorney declared 2017 the safest year in the borough’s history in terms of homicides, shootings, and shooting victims; 101 homicides occurred in the year. (If Dallas, Texas, were the same size, the figure would have been 332.)
It’s not all Manhattan, you should know. Most of the population sleeps in the other four boroughs. And then for even more bodies we have Long Island to the east, Jersey to the west, and Westchester-Rockland to the north.
By the way, Brooklyn – not Manhattan – is the most populous borough.
Now, for ten more bits.
Ethnic diversity: It’s 44 percent white, 25 percent black, and 12 percent Asian descent. Hispanics claim about 27 percent. The city has the largest number of Italian-Americans in the nation (nearly 700,000), the largest Jewish population outside Israel (1.5 million), and the largest Chinese population of any city outside Asia (573,000). About 800 languages are spoken in the city.
Open spaces: About one-fifth of the Bronx is given over to parkland, including the New York Botanical Garden. Staten Island has thousands of acres of parkland and about 2,000 wild whitetail deer.
Largest borough in size: At 108 square miles, the Queens wraps around more populous Brooklyn. Its population of 2.3 million is the second-largest in the city – nearly half of them foreign-born.
Smallest borough in size: Manhattan. Its 22 square miles are dwarfed by Staten Island’s 58 square miles.
Restaurants: The city has an estimated 24,000 eateries – including delis, pizzerias, and take-outs. As for sit-down-and-be-served, the number’s closer to 8,000. One enterprising guess says that at one a day, you’d need 22½ years to hit them all. By the way, a fourth of them are in Manhattan. As for home cooking? We’ll have to ask a greengrocer.
Runways: You think people fly straight in Manhattan? Think again. Most domestic flights work out of Newark Liberty International in New Jersey, serving nearly 44 million passengers a year. JFK, on the Atlantic shore of Queens, gets the bulk of the international flights, nearly 30 million passengers a year. LaGuardia, in a tight corner of Queens, is the most convenient option and serves nearly 30 million passengers annually. MacArthur in Ronkonkoma, Long Island, serves about two million passengers a year plus commercial traffic.
Housed animals: The Bronx Zoo and Staten Island Zoo, plus Tisch Children’s Zoo in Manhattan’s Central Park, house a world of animals. Brooklyn is also home to the New York Aquarium. Brooklyn Wildlife Center and Queens Wildlife Center also offer displays. That’s in addition to rats, pigeons, and endless humanoid varieties.
Stage life: The celebrated Great White Way on Broadway has 41 theaters as the heart of live American theater. Manhattan’s off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway stages offer more offbeat fare. Not all actors and actresses are working as restaurant wait staff.
Professional sports: Both football teams play in New Jersey’s swampy Meadowlands. The Yankees still play baseball in the Bronx, while the Mets remain in the Queens. The Knicks basketball team and the Rangers hockey team both perform in Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden, but the Brooklyn Nets basketball squad and Islanders hockey team both call Barclays Center in Brooklyn their home. So it’s all over the place, not just Manhattan.
Parking tickets: UPS, FedEx, and other delivery services receive up to 7,000 parking tickets a day, contributing up to $120 million in revenue annually to the city. The tab on unpaid tickets by United Nations diplomats, meanwhile, was put at $16 million, with Egypt as the worst offender, $2 million overdue.
Oh, yes. One out of every 21 New Yorkers is a millionaire. Or so I read. Did they mean just Manhattan? Or the whole shebang? Either way, it’s a lot.
While working in the driveway, I hear a faint “Hello.” I look around and it’s repeated until I see that it’s coming from a second-floor neighboring window. It’s repeated again.
I look up and see two round faces pressed to the window screen. They resemble two little owls.
Not too long ago the two girls had been too shy to respond to my waves. But now?
Just listen. “Hello, hello.”
We’re making progress.
The breakthrough came the other morning when I waved and the older child waved back. I switched hands and waved. So did she. I used both hands. Ditto. We exchanged some other arm motions and finally a thumbs up.