The Guys With the Great Garden

People stop and stare and hold their babbling babies up to the wrought-iron railing. It’s not every day you see a koi pond on Ditmars Boulevard. Or a garden that looks as though it outgrew Architectural Digest. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Yes, there are koi in the pond. The haute design continues inside, where the books in the way-too-cool-for-Astoria living room are artfully arranged by color (red, blue, purple and white), and the deep hue of the Gerbera daisy in the vase on the side table matches the burnt-orange curtains in the dining room. Martha Stewart doesn’t …

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The Cookie Crooner

Jack Chiello is a low-key guy. He’s also a man of few words. Getting him to talk about himself is like trying to pry a pearl from an oyster with a plastic toothpick. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Jack’s the owner of Astoria Bakery. Now, singing, that’s another matter. He could croon until the moon turns blue. But this is not something he volunteers. He’ll only open up if you ask him about his CD. The one that he’s selling at Astoria Bakery, his mom-and-pop pastry shop. The tiny two-counter store is as unassuming as …

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The Ice Cream Maven

At the mention of ice cream, a smile beams like a rising sun on Dolma Yangchen‘s solidly serious face. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Dolma came to New York from Tibet seven years ago. In Tibet, where she comes from, people don’t eat much of the cold, creamy treat. The food is spicy, not sugary. When she was a little girl, she had the good fortune to taste it a couple of times, and its sweetness lingered in her vanilla life. Dolma, the production manager for Fal Foods, which makes DF Mavens non-dairy ice cream, Brazilia gelato and …

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The Lawyer and the Singer

There’s music playing when Marc Gross opens the door. Cara Samantha, his wife, is sitting on the sofa. She’s not singing, merely speaking softly, but her sultry voice relegates the famous one on the CD to deep background. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Marc is a lawyer with Condon & Forsyth. Cara, a singer/songwriter, and Marc, a litigating lawyer, are recently wed. Circumstances forced them apart geographically for three years — an eternity for true lovers — and this is the first apartment that marries their names on the lease. “While Marc was away, I kept subletting apartments and moved&…

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The Laundry on the Line

There was a pole and a pulley at the end of my driveway when I moved in. This cave-man apparatus was tethered to the back of the house by an ancient umbilical cord. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Letting it all hang out. I cut this lifeline to the past without a second thought. Its significance didn’t dawn on me until months later when my neighbors heralded the warm weather by letting their laundry flap in the wind, sending celebratory semaphore signals to the spring sky. The only time I had ever seen such a contraption was in the 19…

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