Our cats have adopted our baskets. Who figured that I would have cats? Or, that we would have enough baskets… Not any basket will do. I don’t know the criteria the cats use. But they pick and claim and no one else seems to compete. Pick a basket for your nap. I tried to bring home baskets that would suit. Nope. They pick what they want.
At this time of the year we take the opportunity to go say “hi” to the beach when the weather is nice. I guess we could go anytime. But I like the bright sunshine. It helps if it’s not too breezy… hey, we live here and I can pick and choose. Yup, it’s interesting this time of year when you can take a pic at the beach and not have anyone in it.
I’ve been on a tear. I’ve been experimenting. I’ve been honing experience. I got better. I got more confidence. I’m still a work in progress. I haven’t/can’t sell – so I’m giving them away. Meanwhile they are original/imperfect works of art. Ha! I was persuaded to construct a jewelry box. We refined the design and I executed a couple versions each time changing and experimenting. It’s worked. I got a lot of product. And there are a lot of females in the family. I hope they don’t see the mistakes. Practical? Useful, definitely. The dowels lift out and hold rings separated and sorted. The hooks hold pairs of earrings… ditto. Forget the design and finish, this is something the ladies will be able to use. I am far from a master craftsman… more like a work in progress.
I live with folks with dietary restrictions. I don’t much like fish, but I can eat anything I want. I draw the line at bugs. Dave ate crickets once. This is my kid. This is my kid whose diet for a good long time was – pasta with garlic and oil. But, gluten free, no corn, no potato, vegetarian, and so on and so forth…. I made a meal (feast). It was thanksgiving prelude. It had all the trappings with the pressure. Family and friends. …just no turkey. We made a formal table out of old mismatched silver we had picked up a $1 a utensil.
The meals started with carrot ginger soup. We used a food mill… Salad of spinach, beets, mushrooms, and granny smith apples followed. Homemade – real – bread. Vegetarian chili – hot peppers and tofu – well, three beans, peas – actually it came out very very well. Carrot cake – from a mix – but with a couple cups of real grated carrot – and extra eggs, yeah, you can cheat Betty Crocker. And then there was the SCAW – sour cream apple walnut – pie that I reconstructed from the Little Pie Company. Yup, I did good. No one left hungry. Everyone lost their appetites. A true thanksgiving.
Nighttime in Chinatown is colorful too. Hey? Maybe that’s why I’m not a ‘black and white’ photographer? It was a crisp (cold…brrr) autumn evening. We walked a long way. I was parked on the other side of town from that ‘roast pig.’ Who knew? Lights and the city are something special. It was fun. I was glad to get into a warm car and go home.
It’s Christmas. Happy. For those of you who don’t celebrate, it’s another day. I wrote this in advance at Thanksgiving. We are embarking on a great road trip. More to follow….
Here’s something different. Hey! I’m old. I have seen a lot. But this was a first for me. Cousin Amy ordered up a roast pig. Yeah! Hmmm…it was her first time eating here too. The showstopper? Roast pig! A whole one. Don’t laugh. It’s sitting on two empty takeout boxes. Style points – 0.
So, I have two memories. My Uncle Harry used to invite my family to Harbin Inn (closed and gone) at 100th St and Broadway. They had the best dumplings ever. (I dreamt about them last nite) And they served a vegetarian duck (gluten) that I loved. For years, as part of the banquet, he ordered Peking duck. I never knew it. I was way way older before I ever realized this was a special dish that everyone went gaga for. Hmmm was it all wasted upon me even if I ate it and had no clue?
The second anecdote concerns two idiot neighbors in my med school dorm. (I also dreamt about how to write this story succinctly) They set fire to the (their) place. You know? Fire drill? It’s only a drill except that it’s not… it’s real with smoke and all. I ignored the alarms till they (firemen) knocked on my door. As I walked past I saw a charred (black charcoaled) duck hanging by a string over an open electric burner. I instantly knew what the knuckleheads had tried. They failed? …because the dripping oil from the duck splattered right onto the burner. Duh!?! You know? To get into med school you needed a straight “A” average. Common sense, not included. “Brain lock!”
In real life the whole process is done in a walk-in smoker. No, you can’t do this at home. Duck is 99% of the product. I guess someone decided that pig works too. It is a showstopper. I don’t know if they intentionally put us in the center of the restaurant but… It’s served up with hoisin sauce and scallions in a steamed bun. The star is the ‘crispy’ flavorful skin. Most of the fat has dripped away. So, it’s almost good for you. Meanwhile, if you are not a vegetarian, you might consider becoming one now.
I bet you might wonder what dim sum is? Done well, it is a giant place serving hundreds. You have to move the inventory (food). That’s the only way you have fresh hot food and lots of choices. It’s all in the turnover. This would be hard to do just about anywhere else that doesn’t have a critical mass of hungry noisy voracious people. Look, I was there to eat.
I was too hungry and too excited to even take a picture… till my initial cravings were partially addressed. Carts are the key. Women come by with carts laden with hot finger sized appetizers. You pay according to the size of the plate. Pick what you want and as many plates as you like. Avoid the slimy weird stuff. Mostly avoid dessert. Did I tell you the Chinese can’t bake? But spring rolls? Everyone has had one and likes them. There are variations and they all taste just fine. It’s a bit of a stretch for a vegetarian, but no one starved. Yes, this is one occasion where a large (hungry) crowd is appreciated.
There was a big crowd in front of this “hole in the wall.” I know the place. I’ve been there. It’s a dim sum shop. What I did not know is that very day it was featured/mentioned in the New York Times as the first dim sum shop in Chinatown. And it had not changed (décor) since they opened it. That might not be a good thing? Rest assured the food is fresh. I understand that most dim sum places get their items brought in from a central location where they make thousands of dumplings in a batch. Crowd notwithstanding, I’ve been in the “joint.” The last time was when the kids were small. That would be a couple decades ago. The furniture was old then! We dropped in with Susan and Kevin (from MA). What it did not realize (but should have known!) is that they are pretty ‘meat and potatoes’ eaters. My bad! I chowed down on the tasty dumplings while they politely picked among the (too strange for them) offerings. Afterward I was admonished for being so oblivious. Sorry. I like the stuff. It is made from good stuff. Doesn’t everyone like it? Yeah! Clueless. Me.
We’ve been here exactly twice. I found it again! Take me anywhere and generally I can get back. Or, take me anywhere and I will remember how to get home. I’m visual. Tell me directions? Uh uh! Remember that my comment about never being lost? The owner was a woman of uncertain age. She was a curmudgeon! She had little warnings everywhere in the shop to caution against touching, opening, smelling… you get it. But once she saw we were there to buy tea… Now, it was not inexpensive, it was just deceptive….like $7.50 an ounce. I guess that adds up in a hurry. The last time around we got a hot pepper tea. Not again. But it was the reason we returned. The owner had not made another batch – too finicky and not enough sales. Ah well, we contented ourselves with some other exotic blends. Good news, she ships. I won’t have to pine any more. We can just order up online.
We made a trip to Chinatown recently. Chinatown? Well, with more and more I guess it’s fair to say it was New York City. But there are at least three enclaves now. Manhattan! Of course! Is there any other? Yup, San Francisco, Los Angeles…. Live seafood. It’s about live and fresh. I’m not sure there are many places where you walk past tanks of live seafood ready to be cooked to order.
The shops? Exotic? Certainly different. Prices? Whoa! Look closely. Read the labels and … whoa! They would be thousands of dollars per pound! Really? Dried shrimp, a delicacy? And abalone, at hundreds a pound? I can appreciate the price, marvel at the prices, and shake my head that someone values this at so many dollars. Abalone is chewy and not particularly tasty to me. But then don’t ask me. I don’t like wine much either.
The quintessential fall image? There were none while I worked in Saudi. Ha! No trees. No fall. No leaves. It was 100 every day. I rained a day or two a year. The trees and bushes bloomed year long. And I don’t look back with any longing. Meanwhile, I try each season… not too hard of late. Dover. I got lost. Ummm you are never lost as long as you never put the car in reverse. I turned the corner past a government building. There! Whoa! Getting lost (I wasn’t) has its benefits. Brilliant bright color! They say that rainy days give the colors more saturation. Well, they are wrong. I gravitate to the bright ‘in your face’ colors that pop! I got some images. This was fall.
I have switched hard drives (not enough storage space) so many times I did not know what I would get when I did a search for brother John. It’s been a few years now. I try to remember on his birthday. This one image popped up. I didn’t take it. Ha! It’s an early iteration of my Manhattan apartment before many renovations. We all had mustaches. That’s funny (to me). I kept mine all these years, Eric and John were more casual. Their significant others did not insist… It’s Christmas. We had an almost uncanny knack of duplicating presents. This was the year of the overcoat/raincoat. Everyone got one. “Like minds think alike?” It happened way more than this one time. Yeah, Cabbage patch and pound puppies and tickle me Elmo, but overcoats? Gimme a break.
It’s called a raddle. Yup! It’s for weavers to keep bundles of fiber separated as they prepare the loom for work. I built these. I was experimenting with wood finish. There were a lot of small dowels cut on the chop saw. Oak is the easiest best wood for me to get at the big box home store. Pine and poplar don’t play well with stains. They (raddles) are kind of stunning. They are relatively simple to make. I did it for fun… a relaxing interlude where appearance was not critical. Jewelry boxes are different. Every flaw counts. Finish is key to appearance. Boy, I struggled! Like everything else, “it don’t look bad” from the outside. Indeed, it looks pretty nice! Yup! Consider it art. If they were manufactured like widgets they would all be uniformly the same. Me? I like excuses. Art is where each individual work is unique and has its own flaws which make it “one of a kind.” Ha! An excuse. I’m aiming for perfect and accepting imperfection. My partner, also the consumer and design originator, was quick to exclaim how lovely these boxes turned out. I’m more critical. She’s also gonna be steamed I called her a partner. There’s gotta (gonna) be a better term.
I told you I’m not a morning person. Funny! Since I quit working I’m frequently up before dawn. While I worked I was fortunate to time the start of my day well after sunrise. Somedays I would head in for ‘rounds’ near to noon. Yeah! Decadent! It almost seemed unfair. I felt guiltily like I wasn’t really working. I was lucky to have a flexible job that I enjoyed. Of course, there were plenty of nights I got home well after dark or not at all. Sunset, sunrise? Close your eyes, open your mind, it could be either or both. Mostly I’m active in the evening. In the morning I see the dawn but am less enthusiastic about catching the ‘rays.’
It occurred to me… that fall pictures in a cemetery are somehow intertwined. Dead leaves and dead people. That’s kind of harsh and stark. Beautiful autumn color in a restful place for departed dearly beloved ones. I’ve taken many a cemetery pic and seek the quintessential autumn image. I have taken fall images in a cemetery for sure. Bittersweet.
Here’s a non-sequitur. At the average of 1/100 sec per image for 100,000 images over three years that would be about 160 minutes or 2 ½ hours. Therefore, I have recorded/documented about a scant two hours of my life during that time. Since I shoot a lot of doubles, it would be a far smaller representation. Video? You shoot a lot more “nothing worth saving.”
Here’s an exercise I struggle with. Timing. Get that breaking wave sharply focused as it rolls showing maximum curl. Of course, it should also be a big wave. I frequently miss. …try again. Usually the camera is in my pocket as I see a large wave break. And another won’t come along till I have the camera tucked back in my pocket again. Insanity! Or, Murphy’s law?
It (she, the barn loom) was not happy in the basement. Barn loom? You might envision a loom so large it needed to be housed in a barn. Nope. It was made from substantial timber because the builders were used to building barns. This lumber was the material they were used to working with. Oh?! Yeah, me too. I was relieved that it was not a large loom. Big enough. And heavy! Yup, the SOB needed to disassembled and transported upstairs piece by piece. The back beam is a roughhewn tree trunk. Dry, but still one heavy SOB. We squeezed it into a room with four other looms. Why do we need so many (looms)? Ha! I got cameras (digital, don’t ask about film please) TNTC – too numerous to count. But why do we have such a bulky hobby? Well, short answer, you do a lot of different things. Yeah, right. Don’t we all. Bottom line: sunny and happy!
I’m not a groupie. NYC was too full of big shot celebrities for anyone to really be surprised. So it was always better to be cool. Did I tell you we ran into Richard Dreyfus and Judy Collins at a Bar Mitzvah ceremony? Lisa gushed all over Judy. She had profoundly affected her through her songs and music. With a bit of a pained and earnest look, Judy leaned in and asked, “Where’s the bathroom?” Yeah! Cool. Well, the gown was on display. It was the replica, not the original. So, it was silk screen printed. And the bead work was glued. Yup. Hot glue gun. So, it weighed a ton but not from precious stones, but from glue. Up close I guess you can tell. My camera zoom got close (sort of). All in all it was a small display. I must admit the hype was greater than the experience. No. Just be cool.
We got a private tour. That is part of the benefit and beauty of old age. We went to Winterthur and were the only ones at that hour to show up. It was a work day. Voila! We got to walk around and get all of our questions answered. Well, mostly. Some things we asked stumped the guide. I did learn a few things. The candle stand was adjustable. That way the light could be adjusted. Ha! Great idea. And the blown glass window was made of remnant panes. That is to say the panes were the discards from blowing glass. When made into a window it was considered art. Go figure. I’m leaning all sorts of new things these days.
Blown glass, woven fabric: anything lends itself to interesting inspection. The pattern on this woven garment was from individual dyed fiber. It was not printed. The pattern was done with a computerized loom. No, it was not a computer. And it was not done mechanically. It was all done by hand. But the plan and weave were aided such that a more complex pattern could be undertaken. Puzzled? Just take my word that this was a pretty good weave that I could never do in a million years of trying. Do ya think it’s easy? Huh? Ok?
Richard Cleaver does some strange work. It’s unique. I’ve never seen anything like it. It is a bit out there for me. It would appear he liberally uses hat pins. No matter. The work is eye catching. And you would have to admit it took a lot of time to complete. Wondrous things are lurking in the minds of talented artists.
The last time I played with watercolor was in kindergarten. I was forced to paint something for parent teacher conference. My only goal/task during free time was to take out all of the wooden blocks. I never got to play. Just taking the blocks off the shelf used all my time. Insanity!? (doing the same thing over and over … hoping for a different outcome) So, I sat before a paper clipped to an easel, took a single color, filled my brush, and painted a squiggly line, filling the page, and then sat back contentedly. Have I told you this before? When asked I responded to the teacher, “It’s a roller coaster.” She walked away counting to herself. I remember that part too. So, you’d laugh to think we signed up for watercolor lessons with an artist of considerable renown. To be sure my significant other wanted to meet the artist. Aha! But why take lessons? I fell upon the sword immediately and claimed to be a complete novice.
I mean there were folks there with some serious paint, brushes, and paper. Mission accomplished. We scored an invitation to visit the artist in his studio. I was complemented on my work (ha ha [but he really did – a good teacher]). The artist’s style complimented my own. He just threw the paint upon the paper and then closed in on the details as he went along. I had no details and was very good about throwing paint on the paper. Hey, there’s potential here. Oh, his frames were also art. He was a metal worker in the other half of his life. And, I work in wood. Hmm…..
Another first. We ate at the landmark Red Lion Inn for lunch. (reservations required) It was ok. I had a traditional chicken pot pie (safe) – which was deconstructed – crust separate and the chicken served over a puff pastry top. There are plenty of antiques in this inn that’s so full of history. Meanwhile, Alice’s Restaurant is gone but a sign still lingers. Yes, that Alice’s… and “it’s just around the back.” Don’t worry if you don’t remember Arlo (Guthrie), but, I do.
I don’t sit. And I surely don’t do it well when I do it for an instant. We sat. …for a while. It was breakfast. I did not (eat) much. And we sat. Just sat. Surely, we were burning daylight and missing the next attraction. …and we sat…just warmed by the cup of coffee. It was one of those moments of pure peace and bliss that infrequently creeps into my life. I appreciated the moment. I appreciated it at that moment. And I especially recall it fondly as I write now.