Wednesday, June 30, 2010


A few months ago, Dave and I bought some lush, colorful hydrangeas at Shop-Rite and put them on our balcony. One was bright pink and the other the standard dusky blue. They looked great for weeks and weeks, but eventually, as all hydrangeas do, they began going to seed. The flowers got dry and faded; the leaves began to curl and brown at the edges.

Dave wanted to throw them out, but I just couldn't do it. They were still alive, with green buds and leaves and thick stems. They looked pretty ragged, but I wanted to give them a chance.

We asked our apartment complex if we could put them in the ground in front of our building. Control freaks that they are, the managers said no. Yesterday we planted them anyway. (Come and get us, managers!) We'll see if they survive. I'll help them out with occasional watering.

Last night Dave and I went to a Drum Corps International show in Trenton. Like my first DCI show, this one impressed me with the precision of the marching and music. I still think it's weird that they throw around fake guns, though.

Somehow I didn't notice last year that DCI groups are all brass, drums and color guard. There are no woodwinds and even no trombones. Dave says this is because the groups grew out of a bugle corps tradition. Seems like they'd want to add more instruments to achieve a greater variety of sound.

(Photo: Cat stencil in SoHo, two weeks ago. I miss my cat!)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


After my recent post about the impossibility of photographing fireflies, my friend Kevin suggested I try to shoot them using a tripod and the manual settings on my camera.

I'd been thinking about buying a tripod. But fortunately Dave already had one -- a mini-tripod that he used with his own point-and-shoot digital camera. Last night, I screwed my camera onto Dave's tripod and went out to the field behind our apartment.

Unfortunately, there weren't many fireflies around. The field has been mowed, and it's also been bloody hot the past few days -- maybe these factors diminished their activity. The few shots I took of fireflies alone turned out muddy and unfocused, with faint green blurry dots or streaks. (How does one focus a camera in pitch darkness, anyway?)

So I turned the camera lens on our apartment building, and got some cool shots. This one includes a few fireflies, visible as green streaks. I like how the lights in my neighbors' windows blaze as brightly as suns. In a larger resolution (click photo), there's more detail to the building, the trees and the grass, and the stars are visible in the sky.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Butterfly Park

Yesterday afternoon I took a spin on the bike over to the local butterfly park, which isn't far from our apartment. The paths at the park lead through both cultivated, blooming gardens and wild forests, and I got some good photos of various critters. Ironically I didn't find many butterflies -- maybe it's too early in the summer? -- but I did find lots of birds and insects.

Several white butterflies like the one above were bobbing and weaving around the flowers along the path, but they were very hard to photograph. They landed only briefly before flitting away.

Many of the flowers were loaded with bees.

My most exciting find was this grey-bodied bird with a bright pink head. I think it's a house finch. It was bathing in this puddle, but took flight just as I snapped a picture. It flew to a nearby branch and sat for a while, watching me. This was the clearest shot I could get:

I also saw robins, redwing blackbirds and woodpeckers. Then I went riding for a while before coming back home to a welcome shower.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

More Pigeons and Fun Links

Here are a few more variations on yesterday's pigeon photo. I really liked these shots, and with all the pigeons whirling around my head I took several versions to catch them (and their shadows) in action.

And here are a few links I've been meaning to share:
-- Remember Mr. T cereal? I bought it briefly in college because I thought it was pretty funny. It tasted like Cap'n Crunch. Tagline: "I pity the fool who don't eat my cereal".
-- This site is an interesting collection of images of old Afghanistan, before we, the Taliban and the Soviet Union all turned the country into a giant crater.
-- The New Yorker recently had a hilarious article about the peculiarities of the Eurovision song contest, in which European countries each enter a pop act to compete for subcontinental top honors. Here is the Lithuanian act InCulto, which apparently became a gay favorite at Eurovision when the boys whipped off their plaid pants and paraded around in spangly shorts while singing about their "Eastern European kinda funk." (After reading The New Yorker's description I had to look it up.)
-- Here is the other gay fave, from Greece. I kinda dig this song, actually.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cipher in the Snow

Do any of you remember seeing a film in school called "Cipher in the Snow"? I was reading an article about bullying this morning in Newsweek, and it made me flash back on this movie.

I saw it in sixth grade or so. The story follows a quiet, bullied boy who mysteriously drops dead in the snow after getting off the school bus. His teachers are left to figure out what happened. The upshot is that he died from lack of love; he was essentially ignored and bullied until his heart stopped.

I got online and, of course, found the movie on YouTube. Part 1 is here, part 2 is here. Background info can be found on the Wikipedia page here.

Apparently, the movie was produced by Brigham Young University, which kind of blows my mind. What was my public school doing showing a movie with roots in the LDS Church? Seems like that should have raised a few eyebrows, even though the film contains no overt religious message.

Anyway, I remember it freaked me out. I was already feeling more than a little socially awkward, and I identified with the scene where the boy goes on a long walk picking willows and gets yelled at by his stepfather for daydreaming and ignoring his chores. I was bullied, I wandered, I daydreamed -- did all this mean that I could just drop dead?

The movie was effective enough that I've remembered it all these years. But I wonder if the school was really right to show it -- not only because of its LDS connection but because it was scary and perhaps not entirely realistic.

(Photo: Pigeons in a parking lot, Manhattan, last week.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Colorful Van

When I was a kid, I wanted to live in a van. In the mid-70s my mom worked with a long-haired guy named Jeff who had a cool custom van, with an interior entirely covered in blue shag carpeting and a kitchenette. We all went out to the parking lot to look at it once, because my mom knew I was into vans.

I wonder if she knew there was undoubtedly a whole lot of pot being smoked in that van?

I was into motor homes, too. The idea of being able to take your house on the road just seemed unspeakably cool. Of course, at that age, I wasn't thinking about driveability or gas mileage.

Speaking of vans, I came across this gem while walking in Bushwick a couple of weeks ago. It's common to see panel trucks with elaborate graffiti decoration, but it's unusual to see graffiti -- especially such good graffiti -- on a van.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


We have three dumpsters in the refuse area for our apartment building. Two are for garbage and one is for recyclables like metal, glass and cardboard.

For months now, I've been separating our trash and throwing the recyclables into the recycling dumpster and the garbage into the others. But I've noticed that many people completely disregard the distinction and throw any and all garbage into any of the dumpsters. Part of the problem is that the two garbage dumpsters aren't large enough and always wind up overflowing before pickup day, so people resort to using the recycling dumpster for garbage.

Earlier this week, I was carrying some recyclables to the dumpster while the garbage truck happened to be there. To my surprise, the driver told me it didn't matter which dumpster I threw the recycling into -- he put it all in the same truck. I asked, do the recyclables actually get recycled? He said the garbage was separated at the utility plant.

Well, this seemed pretty puzzling to me. Why have people go through the trouble of separating their trash if it all ultimately gets thrown together in the same garbage truck?

I called the town recycling center and was surprised by the answer. For single-family homes and many multi-family developments, separating trash works. But apparently because my apartment community has so few dumpsters, the trash gets comingled to such a degree that the garbage collectors have essentially given up on us. And contrary to what the driver said, the recycling coordinator told me that all the trash in our development goes to the landfill. It's not cost effective to separate it.

Of course, as a committed recycler, I'm really disappointed to hear this news. No matter what I do, my trash is all destined to be buried, because my neighbors so completely disregard the separating instructions.

I asked the recycling coordinator if there were any other options. He said I could drive my recyclables to the recycling center in town, but that seems counterproductive because of the gas I'd use to get them there. (It's not in a part of town I'm likely to pass otherwise.)

Ugh! So much for environmentalism!

(Photo: Steps on the side of a petroleum tank, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


A couple of Dave's students made this cake for his birthday. Isn't it great? I love the Miami Dolphins color scheme and the goofy portrait. (Dave actually looks like that sometimes.) It's chocolate on the inside, with a mysterious middle layer of something -- icing? custard? -- that I must admit I did not eat. You never know with students.

We had a pretty low-key celebration last night, since the big birthday event was Saturday. I gave Dave a book we saw discussed on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," called "Pandora's Seed" by Spencer Wells. It looks pretty fascinating -- it's all about the evolution of humans from hunter-gatherers to farmers, and all the unforeseen consequences of that change, from our rising obesity rates to influences on culture and religion.

I walked the dogs again last night amid all the fireflies. Ernie saw a rabbit and bolted after it with far more energy than I ever thought he would be able to muster. Fortunately he was on a leash so the rabbit wasn't in danger -- but my shoulder socket was!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

'Capturing' Fireflies

It's rare to find something that just can't be photographed. Fireflies fall into that category. They're invisible in still photos, unless you're lucky enough to click the shutter just as one of them lights up, and even then you just get a green speck. Their movements are unpredictable, and they only light up while they're flying, so I'm not sure how you could zero in on one with any kind of zoom or macro lens. And on video, well, they look like this.

It's kind of cool that nature can still defy the digital age, isn't it?

The New York Times recently ran an interesting essay that discussed the relationship between photographers and their environment -- it questioned the impulse many people have to record images of their surroundings, perhaps depriving themselves of a fuller experience. I thought of this essay while I made this video. Fireflies are better experienced live, no doubt about it.

I shot this in the field behind our apartment, which swarms with fireflies at dusk in the summer. The sounds of passing cars are coming from nearby Cranbury Road. One thing I've noticed about fireflies -- they seem to only light up while they're ascending. You never see their little sparks moving downward.

Monday, June 21, 2010


While I was walking with Kim last week, we passed beneath a loft building near the East River waterfront in Williamsburg. I was looking up at the windows when some wording caught my eye.

I recognized it immediately -- a Joni Mitchell lyric! It's from her song "The Gallery," which seems appropriate given Williamsburg's artistic community. I could just imagine some artist painting this on his/her wall, appreciating Joni's imagery.

When I first saw your gallery
I liked the ones of ladies
Then you began to hang up me
You studied to portray me
In ice and greens
And old blue jeans
And naked in the roses
Then you got into funny scenes
That all your work discloses

"Lady, don't love me now I am dead
I am a saint, turn down your bed
I have no heart," that's what you said
You said, "I can be cruel
But let me be gentle with you"

Somewhere in a magazine
I found a page about you
I see that now it's Josephine
Who cannot be without you
I keep your house in fit repair
I dust the portraits daily
Your mail comes here from everywhere
The writing looks like ladies'

"Lady, please love me now, I am dead
I am a saint, turn down your bed
I have no heart," that's what you said
You said, "I can be cruel
But let me be gentle with you"

I gave you all my pretty years
Then we began to weather
And I was left to winter here
While you went west for pleasure
And now you're flying bock this way
Like some lost homing pigeon
They've monitored your brain, you say
And changed you with religion

"Lady, please love me now I was dead
I am no saint, turn down your bed
Lady, have you no heart," that's what you said
Well, I can be cruel
But let me be gentle with you

When I first saw your gallery
I liked the ones of ladies
But now their faces follow me
And all their eyes look shady

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Eight Seasons

Yesterday Dave and I saw "Red," the Broadway play about Mark Rothko and his struggle to complete a mural for The Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan. It was a terrific play, and it's been a while since I've seen anything on Broadway so I enjoyed it all the more.

We went to celebrate Dave's birthday, which is actually Tuesday. My idea was to take him to "Red" and then to The Four Seasons itself, so we could see the space where the mural would have hung. I knew Dave was interested in The Four Seasons because he'd mentioned it before -- specifically its French chef, Joel Robuchon.

However, when I did a little research, my plan got derailed. Robuchon actually works at The Four Seasons Hotel, an entirely different venue from The Four Seasons restaurant. In fact, it's not even on the same street. I asked Dave where he'd rather go, Robuchon's "Atelier" (as his restaurant is known) or the restaurant mentioned in "Red," which is located in Mies van der Rohe's mid-century masterpiece, the Seagram Building. He chose Robuchon.

I, however, was determined to maintain the play connection. So I settled on a plan to have a drink at The Four Seasons restaurant before moving on to Robuchon's "Atelier" for dinner.

Wouldn't you know it -- the bar at The Four Seasons was closed for a private party! So we asked the maitre d' if we could just look at the dining room, and he agreed. We peeked in and saw the large, open, wood-paneled space with a shallow fountain in the middle and Rauschenberg paintings on the walls, where Rothko's would have hung if he'd completed his commission. Then we went to Cipriani in the Sherry-Netherland for our drinks.

We moved on to Robuchon's restaurant and had the chef's tasting menu, which included such treats as scallop with chive oil and quail stuffed with foie gras. The menu was interesting, the service was excellent, but we were not entirely wowed.

I guess you could say we experienced eight seasons in our very full day!

(Photo: Chairs at an outdoor cafe in Brooklyn, a few weeks ago.)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lost City

For a few years now I've been keeping track of openings, closings, demolitions and cultural shifts in New York via various blogs, including Jeremiah's Vanishing New York, EV Grieve, and Neither More Nor Less. Recently, the NMNL blogger decided to hang up his press hat, and another New York blog called Lost City has also come to an end. Ironic, but also reasonable, that the blogs that chronicle the changes in the city -- some would say its death -- themselves have finite life spans.

Reading the parting letter by the author of Lost City makes me think about the changes I've seen in New York since moving there, just ten years ago. Ten years doesn't sound like a long time, but judging from the altered cityscape, it is.

When I first visited Manhattan in the mid-90s, I was impressed by its apparently vibrant mom-and-pop business community. Streets were lined with tiny shops and diners that were clearly family businesses, many with old neon signs and lunch counters lined with barstools. How they survived up to that point, I have no idea, but they were comforting. New York seemed to still bear traces of its "Breakfast at Tiffany's" past.

As rents rose through the next decade, many of those businesses were obliterated. I already wrote about the demise of the Palladium diner, which always comes to mind when I think of departed places I loved. Other diners followed suit -- the Skyline on Lexington Avenue, the Cheyenne on Ninth, the Moondance on Sixth, and now the Empire on Tenth.

And the movie theaters! When I moved to New York, it was still a city of tiny theaters with two or three screens. Many of the small theaters have since been razed and moviegoers are more likely to find themselves in suburban-style multiplexes with stadium seating. Places like the Beekman, the Coronet and the Sutton have been turned to rubble. (I wrote about the similarly endangered Cinema 1, 2 & 3 back in August 2006, but it remains open.)

I have mixed feelings about changes like these. On one hand, all cities change and evolve. Many businesses vanished before I got there, and many more will continue to depart. But I do feel like New York lost something during the past decade. It no longer feels like the city of Holly Golightly, chic but penniless in her Givenchy. It feels more like the city of Paris Hilton -- glittery, glassy, expensive and characterless. Some of the new buildings are quite beautiful, in an abstract way, but they don't have the accessibility and charm of my old favorite diners. Because I'm not wealthy, many of them I couldn't even enter.

I did try to patronize small businesses in my old neighborhood -- the Lord John Bootery, where I bought my shoes, for example. But I've also drunk a lot of Starbucks, so I'm hardly blameless.

So now, here I am, newly moved to the suburbs and looking back at my own Lost City. Maybe I'm just getting old.

(Photo: On the Brooklyn waterfront, last Tuesday.)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Computer Fatigue

So far this morning, I've spent 3 hours on the computer. I've uploaded to Flickr, written numerous e-mails, written and uploaded a post to my news blog, and managed a few other small tasks.

Yesterday, I spent all morning on the computer. I uploaded to Flickr, paid my credit card bill, filled out my invoice for my freelance job, did some stuff on the news blog, applied for a job. Ironically, when Dave asked me later what I'd done that day, I had trouble remembering -- but I sure spent time doing it!

I thought not having a full-time job would liberate me from the keyboard. But no way!

On a happier note, Dave and I went to a dinner last night for one of his coworkers, who is retiring. It was a fun event, but I had to slip out after a couple of hours to cover this talk for my news blog. It was interesting, but not very linear -- driven mainly by questions from the audience. It was a challenge to mold it into a coherent article.

(Photo: Graffiti on an advertisement in the subway, on Tuesday.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Street Art Marathon

I met up with blog pal Kim yesterday for some wandering in the city. We wound up walking farther than I have ever walked in a single day, I'm convinced. Chelsea, Tribeca, SoHo, East Village and then parts of Brooklyn -- wow!

I had a few street art pieces I wanted to find, notably the rest of Roa's work. I had a cheat sheet of locations provided by a friend, but still -- just getting to many of these places required some leg work. Fortunately Kim is also a walker, in fact maybe even more of one than I am, so we had no trouble with endurance.

The results are here. Pretty amazing, huh?

Kim is remarkable for her ability to engage strangers and have conversations. She doesn't think anything of asking someone to pose for the camera or for permission to enter their business for a better photographic angle. I don't normally do those things -- I am very New York that way, declining to "get involved" with people I don't know. But because of Kim, we had some great experiences yesterday just talking to people -- the aging revolutionary at the Yippie Cafe in the East Village; the exotic bartender who lived in Paris in a mysterious uncle's apartment; the heavyset garage mechanic who thought nothing of hiking up his shirt to show us his tattoos.

At one point, we were outside Mars Bar, a neighborhood joint in the East Village that is perpetually covered with graffiti. I'd never been inside, but Kim promptly went in to check the place out. Meanwhile an older woman came up to me on the sidewalk and asked what the place was like. I said I didn't know -- I'd never been there. She said, "Me neither. Let's go in!" So all three of us wound up hanging out in Mars Bar for a while, though the mystery woman only stayed long enough to get a good look. Kim and I stayed for a beer.

We ran into a guy in Chelsea who clued us in to an exhibit of late Monet paintings at a nearby gallery, and for a half hour or so, we strolled among the water lilies and rose arbors, admiring Monet's purple-blue and rusty red color palettes. We then checked out the High Line, an elevated park on an old rail line along the west side of Chelsea, with stunning views of the Hudson River.

Later that evening we met up with Gary and had dinner at a mediocre French place in Hell's Kitchen. A couple of cocktails later, we learned to live with the dry sole meuniere and gelatinous-looking coq au vin. In fact, we had a ball!

Today I'm exhausted. I've got a Shirley MacLaine movie to watch and I'm planning to camp out in the recliner and do nothing!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dinner Party

We had some friends over for dinner last night, and Dave made a lineup of amazing dishes. We began with watercress soup, a sort of vichysoisse with watercress mixed in; moved on to eggs in cocotte, a poached egg atop a bed of mushroom duxelles with cream; scallops atop parsnip puree with orange sauce and both sauteed and baked kale on the side; coq au vin with asparagus risotto; and a poached pear stuffed with blue cheese for dessert. Delicious!

Dave is such a marvel. I'm not sure I could even bake a chicken.

As usual, I was in charge of setting the table and cleanup. It took two loads in the dishwasher, plus a lot of hand-washing, to manage all the dishes. Fortunately I like that kind of thing.

Today I ran five miles at the gym to work off the creamier elements of that meal!

(Photo: Blob of light in a parking lot, Chinatown, last week.)

Saturday, June 12, 2010


On Thursday night I was sitting on the couch when I felt something crawling on the back of my thigh. I brushed it off and discovered to my horror that it was a tick.

Finding one tick would be bad enough. But this was the fifth tick I've found in our apartment over the past few months: one on a wall, one on Ernie, and three on me!

I suspect the dogs pick these ticks up in the field or woods as we walk. For whatever reason, the ticks usually don't stay on the dogs. They make tracks in my direction -- maybe because I always sit on the couch alongside the dogs, while Dave sits in his chair. (It could be that I pick up the ticks while walking, but I usually look myself over after I come inside.)

I don't think they're deer ticks, the kind that carry Lyme Disease -- at least, they don't look like the deer ticks I see pictured online. The coloring is different. But who knows? Fortunately, I haven't found any evidence that they've bitten me.

Dave hasn't found any ticks yet -- because he works, he spends less time with the dogs than I do, and as I said he doesn't share the couch with them. One of his students found a tick on himself during class not too long ago, though. We both agree we've never lived in a place with so many ticks!

We're going to get some kind of anti-tick treatment for the dogs, and hopefully that will solve the problem.

(Photo: Chinatown, last week.)

Friday, June 11, 2010


Combing carefully through my checkbook yesterday proved to be very educational.

For some time now, I've been under the impression that my money was holding out just fine. I transferred a chunk into my checking account in February, and since then I haven't touched my savings. I kept thinking, "How can I be living on this not-so-large chunk of money all these months?" Of course, I've been getting unemployment, but that's a pittance.

I must have been in denial. Seriously. If I'd given it even a moment of critical thought I would have seen that I couldn't possibly have survived on that money all this time.

Combing through the checkbook, now that my checking account has more or less run dry, reminded me of two things. One, I got a pretty large tax refund, which I never transferred out of my checking account -- so that money has also been spent. Two, I launched my checking account with a different transfer last December. That money has also been spent.

So in reality, I've spent more than I imagined. About three times more.

Now, this is not cause for crisis. I have plenty of savings still. I have not touched my severance payment from my employer or most of the savings I'd accumulated up to last fall. And some of my expenditures were for essentials -- like my share of my health insurance through September.

But I do need to be more careful with my money. When I first lost my job I went through an initial period of hyper-austerity, but gradually that subsided and my spending habits returned more or less to normal. Because I live in New Jersey now, things are much cheaper, but I haven't been particularly careful about cutting back on luxuries like restaurant meals or bottles of wine.

I don't want to stop going out -- I think we need that opportunity, and it wouldn't be fair to Dave. But I should be more aware. And goodness knows, I wish I could sell my apartment. If I didn't have that hanging over my head my finances would be much closer to breaking even.

(Photo: We bought a philodendron for the living room a couple of months ago, and it throws the most interesting shadows on the walls!)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Balancing the Checkbook

For years, I've carefully filed all my ATM and bank receipts, so that at the end of every month I can reconcile them with my bank statement. I go through and check everything off in the checkbook to indicate that it's cleared and then balance the remainder of the transactions to be sure the bank and I agree how much money I really have.

Recently, though, I thought about how absurdly antiquated the process is. It was designed for a time when bank statements came monthly in the mail. Nowadays I can hop online and check the status of my account at any time. I can make sure my checks and ATM transactions clear correctly in a matter of days, and there's much less ambiguity about outstanding transactions. (Especially now that I write far fewer checks, preferring to use electronic fund transfers.)

I tried to abandon the practice. I just logged on and checked my account every now and then, to make sure everything looked kosher.

But I never got past the uneasy feeling that I didn't know exactly how much money I had. There were always a few things outstanding that weren't yet shown online. And what if the same ATM charged me twice within a period of a few days -- would I even notice? I felt a little careless, a little sloppy.

So today I sat down and entered three months' worth of transactions in my check register, and I'm going back to my old system. It seems silly to work with so much paper, but old habits die hard. How do you all manage your checkbooks? Do you balance them or just keep an eye on the account directly?

(Photo: Art by Dasic in Bushwick, Brooklyn.)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I went out to Brooklyn yesterday primarily to see this HUGE piece of street art by the artist Roa, who's been working around town the past few weeks. Isn't this amazing? And it's not a big paste-up, either. It's hand painted.

As it turned out, yesterday was a terrific day for walking. The weather was spectacular, with perfect temperatures and a pristine blue sky. I don't think I even broke a sweat, the temperature was so perfect. I had my iPod with me, and thus was provided with an ideal soundtrack for the day -- I could really identify with this post by my blog pal Reya, who appears to have had a similar experience. I was joyfully moved by the combination of bright sunshine, shifting scenery and music.

I took a bus into the city -- a different bus from the one I normally take, which expresses to the Port Authority. This one ran express to downtown Manhattan -- the financial district. I got aboard just because it came first, and I didn't care where in Manhattan I landed. Anyplace was fine!

So I began walking in the financial district and traipsed up through Chinatown (always fertile photography territory) and the East Village, before boarding the subway and heading out to Bushwick. In between I stopped for coffee at The Bean, a coffee house on First Avenue that I've always liked, and later for a cheap burrito at lunchtime.

Here I am posing with Roa's piece. I'm in awe!

Monday, June 7, 2010

New Jersey Pride

Dave and I went with our friend Bill to the New Jersey Pride festivities in Asbury Park yesterday. We had a great time, wandering around the fenced area that held all the vendors and performers, although it was bloody hot and the band that was playing at the time was pretty intolerable. When we'd had enough we fled to a nearby air-conditioned bar called Georgie's and had a couple of beers, then walked down to the boardwalk and along the beach. (But not on the beach, because it costs $5 to get access to the sand, a fact that I find remarkable and kind of offensive.) We bought some ice cream cones and then had a glass of wine at Watermark, a popular bar with a beautiful ocean view.

It's funny that New Jersey's Pride events are so early in June. (Photo highlights here. I even got in a few pictures of New Jersey street art along the way!) I suppose they don't want to compete with New York's, which are always held on the last Sunday of the month.

We had dinner at a Spanish restuarant called Bistro Ole (Flash-heavy Web site here), which I really enjoyed. I had a roasted chicken dish with raisins and tomato over rice. Loved it!

Happy early Pride, everyone!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bicycle Riding

I took the bike out this morning and had a good ride, winding through suburban neighborhoods for about an hour. Bike riding is the best way to learn the layout of a town, I've found. I usually ride for a while, paying attention to street signs, and then retrace my route later on a map. (Or, in this case, on my handy iPhone!) I feel like I know a lot more about East Brunswick after riding the past few weekends.

The weather was great, too. All week the forecasters have been projecting rain, and I've been holding off on going to the city because of it. But it's never rained. I suppose I should learn something from that.

Yesterday Dave and I went to the local Fine Arts Festival, an art show held around the "municipal pond," as it's affectionately known. My photos are here. Check out that woman with the fingernails!

And today we're going with our friend Bill to New Jersey Pride, down in Asbury Park. I'm hoping we continue to beat the rain!

(Photo: Who says a garbage dumpster can't be pretty?)

Friday, June 4, 2010


It's been a slow news period here in East Brunswick. Yesterday I actually wrote a post for the news blog about chicory. Not that chicory isn't interesting, but it's hardly a local issue for most people.

Dave's spring band concert was Wednesday night, and it went well. The students have improved so much during the past year, and even since the winter concert in January. I can see how teachers get jazzed at seeing their students grow and develop. Anyway, the tension level around here should diminish now that the concert is past!

I still haven't gone into the city this week. The weather forecasts have been iffy, and I just haven't been motivated. I've been really busy with the news blog, looking for jobs, the gym and stuff around the house. I keep telling Dave, "How did I ever have time for a full-time job?!"

We have a huge, hideous art print of Sydney, Australia, that we're trying to sell. Dave's former partner bought it years ago and neither of us like it, but it cost about $400 to frame so we hate to just give it away. I listed it yesterday on eBay, and I put it on Craigslist, too. I certainly hope I find a local buyer; if someone far away wants it and insists on shipping, I'm taking it to the UPS store and letting them handle it. It's too big and cumbersome for me to pack.

(Funny side note about eBay: I had an ancient eBay account that I hadn't used in years, attached to an equally ancient PayPal account. Before listing the Sydney print, I had to update all my account info in both places. You would not BELIEVE how long it took. I even had to call customer service at PayPal. I'm beginning to think it would have been worth it to just give Sydney away!)

(Photo: Chicory growing on the roadside near our apartment.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


This is part of the front wall of a cool, colorful tiled building on U.S. 1 near Princeton. We've driven past it many times and I've always thought it would make a great photography project. So yesterday I finally drove over there and spent some time wandering around the outside. I've got a set of photos here.

The building seems to be in pretty bad shape -- I'm not sure renovation or restoration is possible. (It may be full of asbestos, too, given the era.) It's just another one of many common commercial structures that were built in the mid-century and then abandoned and disrespected. A shame!

I wonder if the architect/designer intended to emulate Mondrian?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Conchita 2

I thought you all might like to see Conchita in her new home. I brought her back to our apartment in New Jersey last weekend, and immediately cleaned her up. She was filthy, having apparently resided for decades in the closet of someone who smoked about 20 packs a day. I removed a thick layer of orange nicotine scum from the glass and frame. Turns out the frame is gray, not olive green! Who knew?!

Anyway, she cleaned up well and we put her in the guest bedroom (a.k.a. the squirrel room). We also cleaned up the room to make it a bit more user-friendly. Conchita now hangs above my meditation cushion, and as you can see, Ernie sometimes likes to spend time with her.