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Nancy Ruhling
Nancy A. Ruhling is a freelance journalist who has had bylines in more than 50 online and print publications, including The New York Times. Her latest postings are on She has lived in Astoria long enough to be an “Astoria Character.” She may be reached at, nruhling on Instagram.

Entries by Nancy Ruhling

This Cafe In Queens Is Every Dog and Coffee Lover's Dream

(0) Comments | Posted February 6, 2016 | 2:00 PM

Astoria Characters: The 5-Bark Barista

A chocolate Chihuahua, leading a leash-holding woman, prances into Chateau le Woof.

Rocky, for that is his name, is a regular. He's coming to meet his girlfriend, Lola, who's sitting pretty in a sweet sweater on the sofa.

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Astoria Characters: The Ex-Cop on the Legal Beat

(0) Comments | Posted February 2, 2016 | 8:50 AM

Bankruptcy is not as bad as you think. Before you dismiss this seemingly novel idea, give Phill Mahony a chance to explain it to you.

"Unfortunately, there's a stigma attached to bankruptcy," he says. "But it doesn't represent failure. The bankruptcy code really puts people on their feet. You come...

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Astoria Characters: The Head Wigmaker

(3) Comments | Posted January 26, 2016 | 7:58 AM

Raffaele Mollica is standing at the worktable in his basement studio with a half dozen tiny tissue-paper packets spread before him like a banquet.

He opens one and plucks a pigtail from it, holding it up to the light of the clamp-on construction lamp.

From these lustrous tresses, Raffaele,...

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Astoria Characters: The New Father

(0) Comments | Posted January 19, 2016 | 5:04 AM

Kyle Marshall is still new at this father stuff, and he wants to make sure he's doing a good job.


Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Kyle's in the duo Monkey Pudding Face.

It's 9 a.m. The rest of the...

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Astoria Characters: The Winter's Tale (of 3 Turtles)

(0) Comments | Posted January 12, 2016 | 5:09 AM

Technically, our tale starts in the summer, but turtles are slow-shuffling creatures so it makes sense that everything has come to a head in the dead of this winter of our discontented spring.


Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
The koi pond...

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Astoria Characters: The Creativity Coach

(0) Comments | Posted January 5, 2016 | 5:02 AM

If you don't know that Susan Weiman is creative, all you have to do is look at her living room.


Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Susan is a curator of clutter.

The coffee table is a lemon-yellow ironing board,...

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Astoria Characters: The Hands-On Healer

(0) Comments | Posted December 29, 2015 | 5:00 AM

It is so quiet in Galina Tsypin's office that you can hear a pin drop. Or, to be more precise, a needle.

Galina, you see, is an acupuncturist, and the studied silence is part of her healing process.


Photo by Nancy...

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Astoria Characters: The Family Portrait

(0) Comments | Posted December 21, 2015 | 7:34 AM

It was art that drew them together.

Patricia Boes, the official artist in the family, doesn't remember exactly when it happened.

She does recall that Devin, her son, was the first to join her.


Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling

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Astoria Characters: The Family's Jewel

(0) Comments | Posted December 15, 2015 | 4:53 AM

There's something comforting about rituals. Pasang Tsaga knows this very well. Every time she opens the Jewels of Buddha, she lifts the gate, lights the incense and turns on the meditative chanting music.


Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling

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Astoria Characters: The Artist Who's Sharing Her Easel

(1) Comments | Posted December 8, 2015 | 5:09 AM

A mommy, baby strapped to her stomach, is peering through a front window of SHASTYE Gallery and Play Space.


Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
SHASTYE Art Gallery and Play Space, 26-16 23rd Ave.

The shop is...

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Astoria Characters: The Community-Minded Pastor

(0) Comments | Posted November 30, 2015 | 7:45 AM

Plunk, plunk, plunk; plink-plink-plink-plink. Someone is playing, let's make that pounding, a toy piano.

Thia Reggio, pastor of the Astoria First Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) takes no note of it. She's had a lot of practice screening out its astringent strains.

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Astoria Characters: The Woman Who Plays the Toy Piano

(0) Comments | Posted November 24, 2015 | 5:02 AM

There's a baby grand in the living room, but when Phyllis Chen sits down to play, it's at the child-size cherry-red toy piano.


Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Phyllis, who plays a baby grand and a toy piano.

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Astoria Characters: The Juice Guy

(0) Comments | Posted November 17, 2015 | 5:01 AM

It's breakfast time, and John Sung Park is at the front door with a big grin on his face.

He's been up since 4, and he still has a lifetime to go before he closes his juice bar, Paris Health New Direction, at 7 p.m.

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Astoria Characters: The Two Who Aren't One

(0) Comments | Posted November 10, 2015 | 5:04 AM

The guy behind the desk gets up to answer the phone. In the blink of an eye, he's back.


Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Richard, left, and Manny are identical twins.

But wait a second. He's wearing a black...

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Astoria Characters: The Life Listener

(1) Comments | Posted November 3, 2015 | 5:08 AM

There are parts of his past that are sad, so William Javier Velazquez does what he has been doing his entire life to ease the pain. He puts a record on the turntable.


Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Javi's the...

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Astoria Characters: The Guys Who Grow Glass Gardens

(0) Comments | Posted October 27, 2015 | 6:04 AM

Onesis Castillo arrives carefully carrying a cactus, and Gilberto Gonzalez holds open the plate-glass door of Crystal Gardens to let him in.

Crystal Gardens is small and Broadway is big, so you'd think you'd be likely to miss it. Except that you can't.

Gilberto and Onesis won't...

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Astoria Characters: The Woman Who's So Into Style

(0) Comments | Posted October 20, 2015 | 5:57 AM

The day is as steamy as the tea Sophie Kempner is sipping. Imbibing it is part ritual, part thirst. And it's so Sophie.


Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Sophie grew up on a farm in England.

Sophie, you see,...

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Astoria Characters: The Woman With the World at Her Fingertips

(2) Comments | Posted October 13, 2015 | 6:00 AM

She's traveled all over the world, but today, and nearly every day, the longest journey that Anastasia Damianeas will take is from her home to her office.

It's more than 30 miles from Melville, Long Island to Hermes Travel, which puts Nancy, the nickname she goes by, on the road...

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Astoria Characters: The Man Fully Invested in Finance

(3) Comments | Posted October 6, 2015 | 5:57 AM

There's not much to see in Korsa K. Nzidee's office because he's just moved into it.


Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Korsa is from Nigeria.

His black granite-topped desk, which takes up most of the shoebox-sized space, is appointed...

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Astoria Characters: The Man Who Clothes Cathedrals

(0) Comments | Posted September 29, 2015 | 6:00 AM

The cane, shiny like a sword, doesn't bother Konstantinos Pylarinos that much. He's learned to shuffle slowly with it on one side and his daughter Penny on the other.


Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Konstantinos owns Byzantion Woodworking.


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