living

Catching Up

A couple of weeks ago I started a Yoga Teacher Training that focuses on working with people who have Cancer and who are recovering from Western Cancer Treatment. The program runs through May concluding with a weekend intensive Memorial Day weekend in New York. Looking forward to being there for an extended weekend to see old friends and absorb some culture. For now, I’m in Dallas the month of April helping a friend who is recovering from Western Medicine Cancer Treatment.

I’m grateful to be learning something new that is useful both professionally and personally.

In addition to the coursework, I’ve been working on a few creative projects. Finished the first round of beeswax wraps made from old pillow cases and the first of many cradled wood panels for future art making. The beeswax wraps vary in size. I used organic wax pellets and organic jojoba oil. I like that they aren’t too stiff. I am going to look into using resin in addition to the other ingredients for the next round.

Beeswax Wraps

Beeswax Wraps

10” x 10” Cradled Wood Panel

10” x 10” Cradled Wood Panel

This week I plan to glue together some cutting boards and make more panels. Stay tuned.





Tuesday Classes!

Happy Monday! That means tomorrow you have three opportunities to catch me for a yoga class! Beginning at 11am with a Restore class. It’s 50 min long, totally relaxing and soothing.

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Next up is a 45 min Express Class. Here we do a little Core work and break a sweat before you head out to the rest of your day.

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Then at 7:15pm we do Guided Meditation, Core and Restorative asana, and pranayama (breathwork).

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National Cat Day

Oliver thought every day is National Cat Day.

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In this house, every day is National Cat Day.

Sweet snuggler

Sweet snuggler

He’s going to be really disappointed tomorrow morning because I forgot to pick up some more wet food for him. He loves his morning ritual. He has a little breakfast. Then heads outside. This time of year he doesn’t stay out long. He comes right back inside and gets back in bed. What a great life he has.

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Silver Lining

The other day an older gentleman was in one of my classes. He arrived early, so we had some time to chat. I asked him how his morning was going. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but he wasn’t very convincing that he was having a pleasant morning even though his words said it had been. He then asked me about mine. I mentioned I’d gotten my car back from the body shop, having smashed it a week before. I commented that I had enjoyed slowing down and doing some walking around through my neighborhood while my car was in the shop.. His blue eyes beamed, and he told me how great it was that I could find the silver lining. He said maybe he should work on that himself. I told him I have plenty of stories of tough times that turned out to be really wonderful. I mention bed bugs, he thought I’d said I’d been mugged. Hah.

It got me thinking about how we get to that place. The place where we can take a step back see the chaos or discomfort or tragedy around us, and accept it for what it is. We can find joy there, or at least a semblance of happiness. When we can acknowledge that we will make it through whatever the challenge that’s been presented, and enjoy the challenge. Laugh at it, even. 

Watching your house burn down, looking the other direction, and finding some sort of silver lining is not what I’m talking about. Non-acknowledgement does not promote growth. Really digging in to the challenges life throws you, and being able to take some pause, taking time that has been offered to peel back some layers is the gift. You may never have an answer to why, but it could point you in a direction that makes your life more rich. You experience growth, that’s the silver lining, however it manifests.

It’s okay to grieve, to be angry, to be frustrated, to feel. It’s okay to be a hot fucking mess, to be devastated, to be lost. Sometimes walking helps, sometimes sitting in silence. Drinking excessively does not. Chewing does. Slower movement and stillness. Slowing down and focusing on nothing else but the breath can help. Bringing ourselves into awareness is the only thing I know to do during challenging times. You can get there a number of ways. Some make it easier and more enjoyable. Letting go is key. Embrace the fact your world is fucked.

Acknowledge it. Breathe into the discomfort. Discomfort and agitation are places where changes are made. Let it go. Trust the process. Take care of yourself.

Teacher Highlight!

Check out my story from Centered City’s Teacher Highlight! It was fun to write and inspired me to write more. I swore at the beginning of the year I would start writing another book this year. Time to start writing!

Stop in next Tuesday for my class: Move, Breathe, Meditate, 7:15pm. Every Tuesday! It’s a great mix of meditation, pranayama (breath work), and asana.

And! Stay tuned for details about the workshop I’m offering early December. After a light asana and meditation session, we’ll let our creative energy flow and create a small mixed media art piece that you can take with you!

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#ranching

Weekend before last I went out to Duschesne County for the weekend after a Trauma Sensitive Yoga workshop in Lehi. The workshop was great. Yael Calhoun is wonderful. I learned about some of the subtleties that create a trauma sensitive environment in a yoga class. Yael works with veterans and military sexual assault victims. She taught us some powerful techniques using basic communication. I'm glad I attended. 

Afterwards I drove two hours, partially through Provo Canyon for the first time, it was stunning. Saw kayakers and fly fishers. It was fun to come up to Heber from the other side of the mountains than I normally see on this trip out to the country going the long way out past Strawberry Reservoir. 

As always, being out in there is delightful, therapeutic, a treat. We made foraged dandelion pancakes for breakfast! Who knew? My cousin Brock heard about it from a person in his foraging class. So we tried it.  

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Definitely learned some things here, too, but they were delicious and fun. Will definitely try it again.

We also cut down a box elder tree. It was my first tree chopping experience. We all got to hack at it. (Yes, it would have been easier with a chainsaw. This was more fun, less noisy, and didn't require gasoline fumes.) I got to throw the rock attached to the rope up into the tree. Sometimes you aren't fully aware that you have unexpressed anger or frustration to release. Swinging an axe to a tree takes care of that. 

We saw a crane! I thought she was talking about a crane that falls on to the sidewalk in NYC and kills people, so I didn't bother to look at first. I'm glad she was persistent. I love how we look, watch, then go right back to what we were doing. 

So the tree finally came down. Success. 

Feeding and petting the horses also was a much needed therapeutic activity. We started with carrots, but they were still hungry. Who can walk away from a horse. 

Happy Horses

Happy Horses

Heidi and I went for a hike up the hill to look for frogs in the pond. Along the way we found wild asparagus, picked it and ate it. We brought some back and ate that, too. It's so fresh you can eat it raw. 

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Then it was time to go back home. I always feel so energized and happy after a weekend like this one. 

Raven Magic

This raven stopped by yesterday while it was drizzling rain. I heard him first and had to find out what creature was making the croaking sound. It's funny how the mind works. Oh, that's big, is it a hawk? No, it's black. Is it a crow? A raven? Quoth the Raven, Nevermore. So of course I also had to go back and read The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe.

After it flew off I noticed it was flying with another ginormous black bird. Turns out the way you can tell the difference between a crow and a raven is the sound they make, the tail feathers, and ravens fly in pairs. 

Anytime I witness some sort of seemingly random experience with an animal, I check out the symbolism related to the animal. Raven is about travel inward to the darkness. I love it. Shape shifting time bender, facilitating transition and transformation, Raven is a wonderful totem. All this time I just associated it with a man's descent into madness over his loss of Lenore. 

How thankful I am to add to that the energy: changing consciousness, honoring ancestors, mysticism, rebirth and renewal, creation, healing, courage, and introspection. I suppose a person would go mad if she never looked inward, into the shadow. 

Snowstorm Stripes

I drove this dude from Ft. Worth, Michael, out to Park City this morning from the airport up through Parley's Canyon in a snowstorm. Before we reached Sugar House there were warnings for semis to put chains on their tires. (I grew up in Dallas and lived in NYC as a pedestrian for 7 years before I moved to Utah a year and a half ago.) Parley's Canyon on a good day is treacherous because it's steep, curvy, and people drive like maniacs. Before we reached Lamb's Canyon, traffic reached a standstill. I offered Michael to take him back to Salt Lake, but he flew in to go skiing. 

On the way to pick him up I was thinking about my very first friend Michael, who died 20 years ago with his girlfriend after colliding with a semi driving from Keuka College to his girlfriend's parents' house upstate in a blizzard. He was killed instantly, she died later at the hospital. It must have been gruesome and horrific. The accident happened shortly after his 21st birthday, he was buried days later on my birthday. 20 years ago last Sunday. 

I learned how to drive in the snow last year after I moved to Utah. Everyone's advice is to go slow, avoid hills and other drivers. It works pretty well, except when you're on a highway during morning rush hour traffic. 

I was telling Michael from Ft. Worth about my mom and brother getting stuck in the snow in Bears Ears a couple weeks ago on their way to Salt Lake from Dallas. Spending the night in the car, how they could have died, and that they were rescued by a satellite phone feature in the rental car and an $1100 tow. We approached what appeared to be the snarl, a car on the shoulder turned over on the driver's side. 

"They survived!" I told him, finishing the story, hoping the same was true for the occupants of the turned on its side car. He laughed. 

We finally got past Jeremy's Ranch, snow and slush became wet road and sprinkling rain. The clouds began to break. I could go the speed limit again. Captain Badass played as we exited Kimball Junction. I'm pretty sure Michael from Ft. Worth took notice and acknowledged quietly to himself what a badass job I did getting us through that snowstorm through Parley's Canyon without incident. When I dropped him off I gave him a fist bump and said thanks for being on that adventure with me. He gave me a nice tip. 

As it turns out, as it is in favorable weather conditions, the drive back to Salt Lake through Parley's Canyon is more treacherous. The snow had stopped and roads were plowed. People drive like maniacs, and it's mostly downhill. The left lane was closed because a subaru ran into a guard rail just before the runaway semi exit. The whole right fender was gone and it was turned around 360 degrees. After the curve a compact chevy almost drove into my line and would have hit me if I hadn't slowed down (and honked). Shortly after that, a semi changed his mind about exiting 215 and just started moving into the right lane almost taking out the compact chevy. I had time and space to move to the left lane, but the semi was making no excuses about coming over. That could have been real nasty.

I earned some driving courageously in the snowstorm through Parley's Canyon stripes today. I've often thought of driving as a metaphor for life. Sometimes you have no choice but to face what's thrown at you with courage and humor. 

I've driven hundreds of thousands of miles since the mid-90s, about 20 of those miles have been in the snow, none on the highway until today. Michael from Ft. Worth was pretty chill about it. He even told me he wasn't nervous when I asked if he was. Thank goodness, I needed him to be not nervous. He laughed quite a bit, and he seemed to have a good time. So did I. It was for sure a rite of passage. 

yogacentric

Last week I started a volunteer gig teaching yoga and art to a group of elementary school kids for their after school program. They're calling it YogART. The kids range kindergarten through 4th grade, all super sweet. They have been playing a yoga spinner game that they all enjoy, so I've continued with that. For the art portion, I just had them do a free draw so I could assess where they are for our first session.  This week I'm going to see how far we can get with Surya Namaskara A (sun salutations) and self portraits. It's definitely important to meet them where they are instead of being attached to the outcome. My number one goal is for them to have fun. If they get more out of it and learn anything, that's great, too. It's great practice for me. 

I also had the amazing opportunity last week to scribe for Arun Deva while he was giving consultations in Salt Lake. It's amazing how much you can learn by sitting and typing all the words two people say. I love how aligned Ayurveda is with my feng shui practice. While I know I have no ambition to become an Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor, I think it is a wonderful tool for the tool box. I also attended his Emotional Intelligence workshop and a 2.5 hour yoga therapy asana practice. He is truly a wonderful teacher and has inspired me tremendously. Feeling very fortunate and grateful for the whole experience. He reminds me of my mentor, William Spear, but an Ayurvedic version. 

I'm looking forward to attending two of Benjamin Sears' Sacred Geometry Vinyasa classes at Second Side City in Dallas when I'm there in a couple of weeks. I seriously can't wait. So glad my trip coincided with it. Unfortunately it ends the day after I arrive, so I only can attend 2 classes. Oh well. I'm loving the idea of attending super awesome yoga classes when I travel. Sacred Geometry is one of my most favorite subjects. 

Next month I will be finished with the Level 1 Yoga Therapy Teacher Training. Level 2 does not start until mid-June, so I have time to focus on teaching. That's exciting. I can't believe it will be next December before I will have C-IAYT after my name. It is the highest level of credentialing in yoga, so I am grateful for the long process. Otherwise it wouldn't be as meaningful. Salt Lake has been such a wonderful place to be for this part of my journey. 

Mean Streets of Salt Lake

At work today three cops walked in. I asked if they were in for coffee or if something had happened. The lead man replied they were looking for someone with teal glasses and a brown beanie. I paused and noticed his entourage was smiling. I pointed to my beanie and said: this is yellow. We all laughed. 

It was a reasonable question because it's the first time in 7 months of working there I've seen a police officer. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to live in a police state. You'd think a cop would come in for coffee or food every once in awhile. We have decaf espresso. Since #operationRioGrande dispersed the Pioneer Park population, an influx of drug addicts and people in need of mental health services has saturated the neighborhood. Also a reasonable question because in the last month or so these two things happened, one around the corner from the shop and the other shut down the whole city. I was at work when I heard about the shooting and noticed he was still at large. I also live a direct shot between the U and Main Library, where he was apprehended the following afternoon thanks to a librarian. Turned out he went through the Aves, but it was all a big mystery while it was happening. At least 8 agencies, including the FBI, were on it. It was nuts. 

I joked that I've experienced more crime here in Salt Lake than in New York City. We talked about how the feeling of safety is different here versus there. 

Upon further reflection, it's possible I did experience more crime in New York. 

1. The time the dude bodychecked me on 8th Ave near Penn Station when I was meeting a second date for dinner before going to hear Dark Sisters. (Ironically, an opera about polygamist family) When I arrived at the restaurant and told my date what had happened and that I felt rattled, he said to me: It's not what happens to you, but how you deal with it. Totally agree, but don't ever say that to someone who has experienced a trauma, especially as recently as the last half hour. 

2. The time I was walking home to my apartment in Queens and a strange dude, who was out of place, followed me up the street at 2 in the afternoon. He had just been hanging out, leaning against a chainlink fence when I turned the corner. It seemed like he was on something. I was trying to locate my keys buried in the bottom of my bag the rest of the way up the block. When I got to my front door keys in hand, I turned to look.  There he was on the sidewalk on the end of the walkway to my door staring me down like a wild animal ready to attack. He was definitely on something. I'll never forget the sight. It was horrifying, something out of a zombie movie. I don't know how he ended up on 71st street and 41st avenue. Or why. I'm glad I got away safely. 

3. The time I lost my wallet. Must have dropped it between the bodega and my apartment in PLG. That someone who picked it up bought a $1500 plane ticket to the DR and went on a shopping spree around Union Square. That was the same incident where months later my social security card, license, and health insurance card arrived in the mail via a good samaritan who works for the railroad and my former roommate in Queens.

4. The time I lost my wallet again within a month of the aforementioned loss. Switched trains at Union Square after the OHNY party in Meatpacking, and it was just gone. That was embarrassing. It was the second time in a month John Fontillas paid $30 on behalf of H3 to get me to work. 

5. The time I was walking home from Prospect Park stop and the trio of men called me Snow White among other names. Catcalling isn't a crime. It is harrassment. Thankful the #postWeinsteinEra has finally arrived.

6. The time I served Jury Duty in Kings County. http://nyti.ms/2i1BXAk We watched the video of the double homicide shooting over and over and over again. Even in slow motion. Deliberated for 3 exhausting days. 

In Salt Lake, crime and anything underworld really is hidden. Car break-ins are what I've heard about mostly. My direct experience has been:

1. Someone was hanging out in my car in the middle of the night after I left it unlocked. Thank goodness that person vacated by the time I was getting in my car at 5:30am

2. Watched people getting arrested at different locations around the city

3.  Watched a drug deal go down in parking lot under bright lights

4. First Encampment defensive stabber live news report 5 days after crime (link above)

5. The crazy lockdown manhunt murderer with a multi-state rap sheet (link above)

One of the things I noticed about Salt Lake shortly after I moved here: I rarely see cops. It's sort of nice, but a palpable vibe that nothing is happening and everything is fine. #Utah Perhaps this is why they popped in today. They were canvassing the neighborhood talking to people. Establishing a presence. I tip my hat to that. Take back the streets action. As much as I don't want to live in a police state, it makes sense that a police officer is part of the community they are patrolling. Cheers to Chief Brown for being awesome. 

yoga

Today at YTT we worked on planning sequences. Our homework from last week was to come up with a 9-pose sequence, 20 minutes long. I put mine together focusing on the chakras. I brought along my tibetan tingsha. We worked in groups with one person teaching, one person practicing, and one person observing. It worked out really well. It was so great to give and receive feedback. Then an awesome person, Meg, came in and talked to us about planning sequences based on season, themes, and peak poses. I feel like I'm learning so much, and that I'm going to be well prepared to give people an awesome experience with yoga and meditation. 

On top of all that wonderfulness, I feel so grateful for all the family and friends I have in Salt Lake. I spend so many hours each week surrounded by amazing wonderful people. My coworkers, friends, and family are such a big part of my life. 

Anniversary

A year ago my mom and I arrived in Salt Lake after a 4-day trip across I-80 from New York. It's hard to believe it's been a whole year. I'd say it's been a success. It's been wonderful spending time with family, making new friends, creating a new life. It didn't turn out exactly how I'd planned, but I'm happy with the way things have evolved. 

I love this time of year as summer comes to an end and autumn begins. I'm having a party this week to celebrate my anniversary with Salt Lake. Hoping for no rain so we can have a fire in the fire pit. Everyone will have the opportunity to write down something they want to let go on a piece of paper and put into the fire. It's also a wonderful time to celebrate accomplishments and establish new goals.

I'm almost finished with my 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training. I've just begun the 300-Hour program and plan to continue to receive a certificate for Yoga Therapy. It's been an amazing journey so far. It will be a wonderful compliment to my feng shui practice. 

summer

It's been a busy summer between work, Yoga Teacher Training, getting settled in a new apartment, trying to get away to the country for a day here and there, and managing my garden at Withers'. 

The garden has been such a fun transformation to see. It is definitely hard work. Below you can see what it looked like in April before and after I tilled the soil to prep for planting seeds. 

Looking west above before and after, east below before and after

Looking west above before and after, east below before and after

Looking North

Looking North

It was just after I planted all my seeds--carrots, beets, peas, broccoli, green onion, that the metaphorical seeds I planted for my life in Salt Lake last fall and winter started to sprout. Eventually, the seeds in the literal garden sprouted, too.

Growing!

Growing!

Broccoli

Broccoli

Irrigation water is a new experience for me. It's amazing because it does its thing and you don't have to spend time watering every day.

Vertical Element

Vertical Element

Peas

Peas

Beets!

Beets!

Before and After: Late Winter and Summer

Before and After: Late Winter and Summer

I've installed a brick path along the length of the garden. Recently, I acquired more bricks and pavers to create a path from the entrance to my garden. They will be installed this week, pics coming soon. 

women's march

the march last monday in salt lake city was really powerful. i took my 79-year old cousin along with me. he has spent so much of his life fighting for wildlife in this state. we wondered how many people would show. I was hoping for 7,000 people. 10,000 people turned out.

gathering at city creek park

gathering at city creek park

inside the capitol

inside the capitol

before reaching capacity (5,000) inside 

before reaching capacity (5,000) inside 

there are no #alternativefacts

there are no #alternativefacts

signs outside capitol

signs outside capitol

what a great day! so much positive energy. i hope the momentum continues. 

juicy adventures

My juicer has found a new home in my cousin's kitchen. We have made three different kinds so far. We started with this one:

a beet, a bunch of celery, one cucumber, five carrots from the garden, one lemon and an inch of ginger. It was ok--more lemon and ginger may have helped.

Next we did a detox green juice recipe New Years Day morning.  We both loved it and would make it again.

one bunch of celery, five kale leaves, one green apple, one big handful of flat parsley from the garden, one lime, one lemon, and an inch of ginger.

After we finished that, I juiced 4 white grapefruits because white grapefruit makes me happy big time. I love having it around, and I love that it's in season this time of year. I've enjoyed drinking a short glass of it the last couple of days. I can't remember how much it costs at the grocery store for a quart of fresh squeezed, but it was 4.59 lbs of grapefruit @ $1.49/lb. Over $6, but the yield was more than 32oz. (Probably 40oz?) Not bad. 

A friend gave me a little journal long ago that I've turned into a juice recipe book. Some of them I've found online to try and evaluate, but I've left most of it blank for coming concoctions to be recorded and evaluated. 

 

 

#yardwaste

I've mentioned previously that I love that SLC collects yard waste. The city collects it curbside and composts it. 

From SLC Green Blog:

Curbside Compost: Also known as the yard waste program, or the tan can, curbside composting is made easy with a 90 gallon bin picked up weekly. Currently the tan can is “vegan” – meaning it only accepts green waste. The wheels are in motion to expand curbside composting to accept more forms of food waste, so stay tuned! In the meantime, maximize your curbside bin with tea bags and coffee grounds.
 

Many friends asked what would be my next photo series--post-umbrella corpse. I think I've found it in the daily compost collection. It combines things I love--cooking plant based diet, gardening, environmental stewardship, and beautiful imagery. 

garden trimmings

garden trimmings

apple flowers eggs and coffee grounds

apple flowers eggs and coffee grounds

pomegranate cabbage and green onions

pomegranate cabbage and green onions

pistachios and spinach

pistachios and spinach

It was not intentional to carry the discarded theme, but there it is again. It came together organically, no pun intended. 

editing

I've picked up a new word, editing. It's not so much that the word is new, but it's usage. A person can edit her purse or a bookshelf. She can edit a cupboard or a magazine collection. Editing can take five minutes or a year. Anything can be edited, really. It's really just a euphemism for clearing clutter. 

My first feng shui project here in Salt Lake is a massive editing project. We've started in the basement with the smallest of three rooms. It is a room intended for storage. 

Not to scale, but you get the idea

Not to scale, but you get the idea

Rule number one when editing is to be kind to yourself. If you aren't ready to go through a box, set it aside for later editing. Don't beat yourself up about anything. It took 2 people 21 hours to edit this room over the course of a weekend. Rule number two is trust the process. Remember when you clear out objects that no longer serve a purpose in your life, you create space for new objects or activities to come in to your life.

Storage Room

Storage Room

Looks a little intimidating. We took everything out shelf by shelf. As with any editing project, many items were recycled  or donated, some was discarded to landfill, and the rest was kept and organized back onto a shelf. 

To be edited

To be edited

One of the goals was to create space for wrapping gifts and other tasks that relate to the contents of the storage space. 

Same view as above, post edit

Same view as above, post edit

Holiday and seasonal decorations distinctly organized

Holiday and seasonal decorations distinctly organized

Organized china

Organized china

Work surface in the center for wrapping gifts or other tasks

Work surface in the center for wrapping gifts or other tasks

Organized window screens

Organized window screens

Editing is a continuous process. There's still work to be done, but the most labor intensive and time consuming part is complete. We only needed to purchase one additional shelving unit for the back section of the space. In future plastic bins may replace cardboard boxes (they deteriorate), but you don't have to spend much just to get organized. 

fav things about SLC

1. Gardens of all kinds everywhere. So much grows here! Tomatoes, zucchini, squash, arugula, cabbage, broccoli, cucumber, grapes. It's wonderful. Also all the fruit trees! Peaches, apricots, plums, apples, pears. 

2. Solar panels. Totally normal and everywhere. 

3. The mountains are right here. 

4. Wildlife. Not just mustangs, but also pronghorns, elk, moose, deer, quail, fish, ducks...

5. Bookstores: Central Book Exchange is my favorite so far. I bought a copy of Heidi Julavits' The Folded Clock: A Diary the other day on my second visit. I hadn't read any of her work before, but remember her name from working in the Graduate Writing Department at Columbia. 

6. Farm to table restaurants, craft beer, coffee shop culture. Still tons of places I want to check out. Hands down my favorite coffee shop is Alchemy. I discovered it while still in Brooklyn, and it has not disappointed. 

7.  So many hiking trails. I've been up Emigration Canyon, but there are other places still to explore. Looking forward to checking out the Jordan River Parkway Trail. There's really not a shortage of outdoor activities here. 

8.  This place: NHMU Rio Tinto Center. Such an amazing cultural space designed by Ennead Architects

9.  Yard Waste. They collect it. When I was living in Queens years ago, it was announced one neighborhood in the City would pilot a compost collecting program. Not sure what happened, but it wasn't implemented in my Brooklyn neighborhood before I departed NYC. 

10. Everyone has dogs! We've been so lucky autumn has been hanging on. Last weekend I went with a cousin and her dogs to Parley's Nature Park. I was told it's a dog park, but it's more like a great place to go walking with off leash dogs. They love it--multiple water features and lots of great smells. Not the same as hiking in the woods, but it's still great. I'd only ever been to dog parks where people sit around while the dogs play. That's boring! It's fun to watch the dogs have a joyful time, but more fun to walk while watching dogs. 

I'm certain this list will grow. It's a wonderful place full of new experiences.