Stairway to nowhere
For $150 million. It’s under construction and I vaguely remember reading something about it. On the approach to the Lincoln Tunnel I first saw it. Then we walked the High Line. And I got to see it up close. Not close enough to walk on it. It will open in 2019. But we could see the construction. It will be the conversation piece hoped for. I’m already shaking my head. Up and down, down and up, it’s the stuff of nightmares. Of course this is better than the social problems we ignore. It’s art?!
I searched everywhere for this image. I was sure I had taken it. I had briefly seen it after I took it. Nope! Nada! Couldn’t find it for beans. Darn! Hmmm?! Finally! It was on my iPhone. Who’d have guessed? I’m not an iPhone photographer. I use it mostly to document or to remind me. Yeah yeah, I know. It’s really a decent camera. Not me. I like a real camera. And I was photographing the new barn swallows with both – my camera and the iPhone. Ok, I was fooled. But I found it. Good shot. It’s darned hard to get a freeze action shot of birds flying. Believe me! I tried and tried. For a while I thought I had only imagined that I had this shot. Nope, it’s not old age, just too many images and too little time.
It’s old now. Jules went to Hamilton. I got a hat. I’m the dad. It’s new…in this slide. It’s about 18 years old now. I would get another but Jules graduated long ago. Currently the one I have is sweat stained and completely faded. It hasn’t fallen apart. It’s well worn. I hate changing out my stuff. I have plenty of hats. But the good old Hamilton has sentimental value.
Jules was admitted to Colgate University as well. It’s a university by dint of a single post grad program. It’s on a hill. Any class on campus is either up hill or down hill. There is a gorgeous entrance – so gorgeous that people get married with the view. Jules was undecided. I added my two cents. Go to Hamilton. It’s on a hill but the classes are on the plateau at the top. One of the few times Jules heeded my advice? It worked.
Accept no substitutes
The Naked Cowboy is/was an institution on Times Sq. Nowadays, all sorts of imitators abound. There are some very ugly copies about. And there’s Elmo and the Statue of Liberty all waiting to take a picture with you (for money). This is the real thing. Nuts. It’s tough standing in your BVD’s in the freezing cold. Worse. Women just want to hug you when you get a picture taken. That’s cold dedication. I admit that I have not seen this dude since 2014. Did he retire? Maybe he went to a warmer sunnier place.
Yes, he was out in a full blown snow storm. I think he puts the tips in his shorts?
Over the Top
My cats like to curl up and sleep in our game boxes. Geez, the boxes are small. They don’t really fit. Why? It’s a puzzle to me. Ha ha, a game maybe. Anyway, I don’t have a ready image of the cats at hand. They also sleep in our baskets. Any available basket is fair game. I came across this slide of Nellie. She’s curled up in a Christmas box. Content. Oh! The top is why I thought of the title for this post. Contrived. Which? I miss that dog! But then there are seven crazy cats in my life now.
We’re standing under the new greenhouse attachment of our recent Manhattan renovation (2001). And now? Dave is homeless. He has no official mailing address. He has no hardline phone. He’s traveled the world. Julia has been to more than 30 countries. She taught in Africa. She’s expecting her first baby. (Yay! I’m still elated…and worried.) Me? I’ve been in several jobs including a stint in the Middle East. If you had told me at the time of this slide all these changes and more would occur I’d be dizzy with the prospect. What will happen now? Anybody’s guess. I haven’t a clue. It’s always changing. Never boring. I think it’s gonna be different. Ha! When did I get all the grey hair? Not back then.
Old photos. I came across this. It’s about 2002, Lincoln Center. Barbara Cook – quite the diva. She’s starring. I didn’t know her at the time. About a decade later I discovered the American songbook. She’s a big part of it. Who knew? Lots of folks. I was late to the party. There was a craft fair that day I took this slide. Now that’s a full circle for me. Look! Sheep! A sheep shearing demo. Considering what I know about weaving, it’s odd to see that this image is in my files and I only just ran across it. How significant insignificant things seem on second look. History’s a funny thing.
What do you do? What can I do? What did I/we do? The Pet Stop is where we get the cat food. It’s local and we try to support local business instead of the big box stores. The local pet rescue lady leaves cats for adoption. They wait right beside the door and this pair grabbed me just like the sisters did about a year ago. A pair of boys, bonded, and wanting to go home with me. They plead their case successfully. Oh boy! Oh my! Oh gosh! Yup! Just like the last time, Elle hissed, and now Feather hissed. They will have to get over it. The twins are staying. Yes, and so too will the rest of the merry band. The “boys” are mellow and just sniffed. They know their rations will not be cut. The kittens are still adjusting. I’ve never dealt with kittens. So this is new. I guess it’s my opportunity to imprint them properly. Can cats fly?
Ray – we named him after Mike (real name Ray) since he will feed when we are away. After all it helps to bribe the help you need.
Nibbles – he bites your hand gently…. no!! Nutley! This cat is simply nuts! Too numerous to count!
Yeah, with a face like this, who could resist? Just like the sisters – Spice and Feather, this pair started in the bathroom sink. They were there for a few days. Then they quickly assimilated into the routine of the house. Yeah! Seven and counting. I must be nuts. I am nuts. The antics are entertaining. And, like kids, you never have a moments peace. We have three sets of twins now.
We have a fence around the deck. There’s a staircase to the yard. The cats can walk between the stiles. One leapt to the railing and slid down the bannister to the ground below. That was hilarious. Free! Nope! Gotcha! I got him back and he (cat) never tried that stunt again. Meanwhile two of our adventurers were out and through the stiles earlier today. I almost missed the breakout. I watch. But like kids, they move fast and are stealthy. And they don’t shout, “Free!” I caught them. They were each at the bottom of the steps at one point. Dammit! They don’t understand that I would miss them. Chicken net! I had some in the garage. Stapler. Done. They discovered the change immediately. There were hurt looks all around. I will see them go over the fence. What’s next? Tunneling is out of the question. I feel like I’m watching the “Great Escape.” I’m trying for peace and serenity. The cats want to discover the “new world.” I’m a brain surgeon. Surely I can out maneuver a few cats.
Epilogue: There are new cats! Yeah, I havn’t gotten around to the new portraits… yet. Coming soon…. and one of the new kittens? Yup! Jailbreak! Leapt over the gate and down the stairs… not once… twice! Dammit! Rediscovering the wheel is tiresome! Like any good parent, you keep an eye on your book, and the other is on the cat about to go over the fence…
This is from 2002. I’d not given any thought to this picture until I realized how innocuous the internet was back then. Nowadays I travel with a smart phone. In fact, I got my first in 2014. I was forced into it. David made me buy it. Actually, he got it for me at the Apple store near Lincoln Center. The rest is history! Can’t live without it! Amazing! How’d I become so attached to my phone in just a few years. Do I need to mention books, information, images, video, music, and more? I don’t use it as my primary camera. But if you are a minimalist, travel with an iPhone and you are pretty much set. So, there in the corner of the sign in Costa Rica – “Internet” available. They were ahead of their time. I remember 2800 bps dial up. No, on this trip internet was not on my mind. In 2014 it was a game breaker and changed my life forever. You know what I mean. (wink) Hey?! Really? Remember that first call in June? You were nervous! iPhone to iPhone is free. We talked for hours. You have a twang. … a lovely one.
Signature shot. I shoot weddings. No, not really. I’ve just been there when weddings occurred. Yes. I’ve shot a few. Not as the paid prime photographer. That would be too stressful. After all, wasn’t brain surgery nerve wracking enough? However, I always wanted to do wedding photography. The stress would never equal an aneurysm rupturing right at a critical moment during surgery. You’d never know if it never happened to you. I had some spectacular saves. No, it was not salvage due to incompetence. It was just a few miracle saves. No one ever died on my OR table. For that I thank whatever spirit guided my hand.
I digress. An example? My first is a vivid memory. I was just getting the temporal lobe exposed when the posterior communicating artery aneurysm let loose and ruptured. Blood filled the operating field in an instant. Muscle memory!? I just stuck a clip into the blood and released the clip. The bleeding stopped. Just like that! You have to understand that the bleed is coming up the carotid artery straight from the heart and you die from uncontrolled bleeding pretty fast. Like a bullet in a tire you are flat (dead) pretty fast. I looked around, (changed my underwear), and proceeded to look into the operating field. The clip had been applied perfectly. I mean, as in, we didn’t move that clip again. It was perfectly placed. A third year med student who had been observing me that day, years later at a national meeting: the student, now a fellow neurosurgeon, took me aside. He told me that that operation was the first aneurysm he’d seen and his impression at the time was that operation was how all aneurysm surgery was done. Silly me. I was trying to impress him?
…Friends. They don’t mind that I tote a camera to their weddings. And I shoot without pressure. And afterward, I donate my efforts to the cause. It’s a nice complement to be told that an image I took was treasured as much as any other taken that special day. It’s happened more than once. I’m glad my skill is sometimes appreciated. Oh?! This couple is still married. Happily?
Digital frame #0016. It’s an inauspicious start to digital photography. It’s not the very first image out of the camera. Number 0001 was discarded. Ha! And, number 0002 was blurred out of focus. I must have arrived home late after work to open and play with the new digital D70. It was a Tuesday after my office hours. One would not expect my family to be up on a weeknight school/work night.
It might be of interest how/when I began (photography). It started from a need to preserve family history? I was photographically naïve until 8th grade in West Virginia. I took Mom’s Argus C3 (the “Brick”) to Charleston and the Golden Horseshoe Award ceremony. I was dismal. Not an image came out. I had no lesson and no clue about exposure. A year later (1966, 9th grade) we moved to New York City and I got my first Kodak Instamatic 100. My first real SLR camera was an Exakta in 1970 (college freshman). I was now doing black and white. I loaded my own film from 100 ft bulk rolls. I developed my own film. After that the history of my serial documentation begins in 1975. That was the year I began to keep my slides. The collection began in storage boxes in the closet and progressed to custom made drawers. Along the way I became a furniture maker too. My frugality prevents me from upgrading infinitely. It’s all about value for your effort. In a way it’s good to lust for betterment (skill and equipment). I try to be critically aware of my failures.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana
I got a lot to remember.
(Shhhhh….don’t tell mom) I let Lisa do most of the child raising. Mostly because she was way more OCD about it. And partly because I was not home as much as I’d like to have thought. One thing I did do with the kids was ski. Lisa was afraid to fall so she never got good. I learned just a little bit ahead of my kids. I got good fast. They got good and never knew it. They skied black diamond trails before they could read. You know you’re nuts when other people would take pictures of your kids on the slopes because they were so little and skiing on steep blue trails out west. When Julia could finally read she queried me, “But Dad, that’s a black diamond trail.” as we skied past the sign. I told her, “Shut up. Just ski.” And they did. This would be a happy ending. Then, one day they got better than me. I suppose it’s the goal of every parent to see their kids better than them. I’m proud. Mom can’t ski (well), so what happens on the trail, stays on the ski trail.
Design and execution
It’s a tent for your vent! Mike and Jen have four cats and a dog. One of the cats was ill over the winter and she took to peeing down the floor heat/AC vents. The smell is noticeable. The cats were banished to the garage. Everyone’s miserable. I thought up some solutions. Then I went to bed and dreamt up the one solution I think will work. I built a mock up, got it approved, and then built the thing. Unfortunately, they did not tell me the cats had peed down all eleven vents. Oh well. The construction took a bit of time. The mosquitoes greeted me with a warm welcome. (I had to work in the garage.) But, done. I am counting on the fact that the cats won’t just back up over the angle. They’ll find something easier. Right? I hope. Anyone else need a catproof vent?
Epilogue: Banned again! The vent covers worked. Hurrah! Now they pee on the floor, rug, and desk. Oh my!
Epilogue to the epilogue: It’s been a while – the cats are in and out. One peed in the planter in front of owner and guests. But! … not down the vents! Yay! There was a political coffee for state candidate for attorney general. Her campaign manager asked. I was credited with the (original) work. No one is asking for me to make any more.
A pair of barn swallows built a nest beneath the eve of my garage. They were devilishly difficult to photograph. My best effort got their open mouths as mom flitted in for a brief moment. They did not appreciate my presence. I could only get a shot or two. Otherwise the parents stayed away. They were more patient than I. I gave up and left a good image for another day. The kids got to eat in peace.
Baby ospreys? There are a lot of nesting pairs along the road. They perch in high isolated nests. Traffic passes and they don’t seem to mind.
Do not pass go
Some days, not many, are a complete “no go.” It’s not often it snows in New York City enough to stop traffic and business. It’s fascinating to watch the usual routine grind to a halt. For a few days things are way different. Then the snow melts and it’s messy dirty. Oh well, there are a lot of people who trudge through the snow. I’ve never not been able to go. I even did a major brain aneurysm operation in the aftermath of a major snowstorm. Ok, I’m not bragging. It’s just that there was never “no go” for me. This past winter changed that. It’s not that I got old and became a wimp. I just couldn’t go. The snow was literally too much for us to drive. We walked. We did not go far. I was lucky. “Retired” means there is no where you actually have to go. Still, it was a strange feeling to be limited. It’ll snow again in NYC. I won’t be there. I won’t go.
Yes. Every big storm brings out someone who thinks it’s cool to cross country ski down the street or in Central Park. It’s a common spectacle now. I actually considered snow shoes or cross country skis after the last winter storm. The bang for your buck is too small.
On a roll (croissant)
I’ve told you about Scale and Tails Market/Deli/Bakery/Seafood. The owner’s wife is the baker. She was great. The place closed years ago. The routine on the weekend was for me to go fetch the paper and croissants. Then the kids would chow down and enjoy(read the comics)! I freely admit the croissants were good! They had a ton of butter. And that automatically is good. I didn’t eat them. I knew better. It was better I didn’t. I was watching calories even way back then. But the joy comes sometimes from watching your kids happily engaged. This slide does it for me. It’s not the picture but all the memories this one brings. Oh?! Ignore the bed head.
I’m a nice guy. I’m personable, friendly, fairly laid back. I’m shy. I like my privacy. I have a secret life. Well, it’s secret in that the rest of my family may never have seen some of the things I have seen or done. It’s the same for all of us, right? It just struck me that among the many pictures I take, there are few enough pictures of people. I don’t like to be confronted nor to confront. I may take pictures unawares and sideways. There have been times, Halloween parade NYC, and others where the object is to take pictures of people. Ok. But otherwise, I have to remind myself to take pictures of people. Shy? Reticent? Non-confrontational? It turns out that it is the pictures of people that are the most memorable now. I suppose it helps if you are related. It seems that everyone is interested no matter how badly the picture was taken. Fortunately, I have lots of above average shots of the family. Someone I know would be fascinated by the goods for sale. Me? I just wanted a picture of the costume. That was free!
Well, it’s funny to me. I was once accused of having a dry sense of humor. Was that good or bad? I suppose it’s not a good thing to have a woodpecker loving on your wooden church. I’m scanning slides. Not editing. So, I end up looking at each and every one I scan in order to label them. I have a database. Within reason I have lain my hands on a lot of images without too much pain. But the things that I have forgotten knows no bounds. Undoubtedly I saw this slide when I mounted it. But until now I would never tell you that I got a shot of a woodpecker on the steeple of a wooden church. He was gone by the next picture. A call from God?
Here’s a puzzle the internet did not solve instantly. Why are these haystacks covered? It’s not hay? Ok, but why are they covered? I’m sure I asked someone at the time. But, I’ve forgotten the answer. An internet search turns up Monet or haystack cookies. Geez! My attention span is short. It’s a mystery now. I took the picture because it was different. It has stood the test of time. Maybe they did it just for me to come along and take a picture. Hmmmm…nah!
Not. Kristina entertained me at Harald’s party. She’s Swedish. What fascinated me was she’s actually related to a famous Swedish neurosurgeon. Don’t ask. Hey! It was a party where the birthday boy was a neurosurgeon. I sat with her and she tested me on identifying Swedish, Finnish, or Norse women from their looks. I was a miserable failure. You can’t judge a book by its cover. We traveled from Unset back to Oslo and then I never saw her again. Like me, she lived in NY. She remembered me to some folks at Harald’s house some years later. I remember her too. Harald’s Norse. She’s Swedish. Can you tell? I will admit… nah… it would only give me grief.
Harald had his home custom built by farmers in his valley. It was made from logs that were carefully selected and then aged (three to five years). His roof was a green roof full of weeds. There were chains for down spouts to drain water. The house was built into the hillside and was economical and efficient since winter is bitter cold up near the Arctic circle. All in all it was quite and experience to have attended the party.
It’s a small world
So, my trip to Norway was great. I met a fellow surgeon at JFK airport who happened to be going as well. We would have driven together but he met a woman at the rental counter and departed with her. Ha! Smooth? It turns out that his “date” meant I had no bed. Harald scrambled to get me a room. I never knew till much later. Meanwhile I was placed at a local farm in what I would call, ‘the loom room.’ Yup, two barn style looms. Now I know. The past few years has made me conversant with weaving. And that’s a winder in the window. I had a bed in the corner. It was charming. It was unique. And now as I look back I can say that I know someone who’d give her eye teeth to have been there with me. Back then, I knew nothing about weaving. It was an adventure. I like adventures. The view? The cows would walk past going to and from the barn for milking. I admit I would have liked a date too. But, the looms and no roommate was more than fine!
9/11 is synonymous now with the attack on the World Trade Center. I was at home just getting ready to head to work. I would have driven right past the WTC on my route to work. Instead right out my kitchen window I saw smoke. It was downtown. Not too far by my estimation. I was wrong it was from the WTC. I climbed to my roof and started taking pictures. I called the NY Times to offer the pics. Ha! There were a million pics by the end of the day. I watched it. In retrospect I can see the event unfold.
The second building was struck and new flames shot out. At first, I thought the fire from the first building had jumped to the second. Then, I realized the buildings are separated by nearly ¼ mile. No chance. Then the first building fell, collapsed leaving a cloud of smoke. It was unbelievable. I fully expected the building to reemerge when the fire was controlled. Nope! And then the second building fell.
Unbelievable! No no! It can’t be. The buildings are more than 100 stories tall. There’s no way they would simply collapse. No way. The smoke cleared. The buildings were gone. I knew people who perished. I knew relatives of some of the victims. History was changed.
My home as many others became a refuge. My son brought home two classmates who were stranded. My niece showed up. My wife charged out to try to help the survivors. Unfortunately, there were no wounded. Jules was on a school trip. The bus did not return the kids out of caution. So many years have gone by. I have seen the new building rise from the ruin and ashes. Everyone can tell a story of remembrance. This was mine.