May 31, 2013

Santorini, Greece. October, 2011

Substitute terra cotta for all the white here on this sun-bleached Aegean island, and couldn’t it be Taos? The shapes. The shadows. The sky.

May 30, 2013

Santorini, Greece. October, 2011

Making do. And why not? It’s interesting to work out the word feta in the Greek letters on the turquoise cans. But what kind of cheese was in that one darker blue container next to them?

May 29, 2013

Santorini, Greece. October, 2011

What must it be like growing up on this small, sun-bleached island, filled with tourists by day, so quiet at night? I love that this little kid was perched in a window, watching the passersby as his mother provided commentary and distractions.

May 28, 2013

Santorini, Greece. October, 2011

The view of our sailing yacht from way up on the island of Santorini. The two towns that make up this steep island are at the very top, so everything (including tourists) has to be transported by foot, by mule or by cable car. Consequently, everything is a bit more expensive. But for the views and the beauty, worth it. (By the way, the water is so deep here in the circular basin that our ship could not drop anchor. The bottom dropped out of a larger island at one point, leaving this basin in its place. Some think this provided the origin of the Atlantis legend.)

May 27, 2013

Santorini, Greece. October, 2011

Good thing I had my sunglasses when we visited the blinding white island of Santorini. White buildings. White sun. Blue skies and sea. All perched at the top of a steep-sided island whose cliffs defy even the hardiest of climbers. Wear red.

May 26, 2013

Watertown, MA. July, 2011

I don’t consider myself a voyeur. But sometimes you just have to go there. I like the texture of this photo, taken through the screen of my kitchen window. I like the “surveillance” aspect of it. And even with this mesh, you can see that this youngster, who was part of the (noisy) team installing siding on the house next door, does, as Jay likes to say, “his homework.” I thought this might be a fitting “window shot” to balance the ones I posted earlier this “Watertown Week” here on SLS.

May 25, 2013

Watertown, MA. May, 2013

When I posted these chairs for sale on Craig’s List, there was immediate interest. One woman emailed asking if she could stop by on her way through my neighborhood to take a look at them between 4:00-4:15 that afternoon. Fine. At 4:00pm, a car pulled up, so full of stuff that you couldn’t see into any of the windows. A man got out and said to me, “I want the chairs.” I explained that a woman was coming to look at them in a few minutes and suggested that he wait. “She’s going to want them,” he said as we walked to the patio. “I really want them,” he said. Then he offered me double the price I had been asking. WWJD?

May 24, 2013

Watertown, MA. May, 2012

Look at this wall of symbols here at The Plumbing Museum in my hometown. My friend John always told me that the task of the graphic designer is “making language visible.” Take a look at some of this language, most of it plumbing-related.

May 23, 2013

Watertown, MA. May, 2012

Not sure why, but I love this odd pairing from my town’s Memorial Day Parade. Hidden behind their instruments, opposing physiques, completely out of step, nowhere near the others in their band. No wonder I race to attend the parade each year.

May 22, 2013

Watertown, MA. July, 2011

Is there anything better in this world than good friends? I don’t think so. And I’ve been blessed, my whole life, with the greatest. Seen here in my backyard, the delightful Carasik Sisters, flower girl Georgia and Diane, two of the best.

May 21, 2013

Watertown, MA. February, 2013

Just when people are starting to complain about the heat, a reminder of the alternative. I like snow. When it’s decorative. When it’s inconvenient, not so much. This winter, though the big white seemed to stay away until February, it made up for lost time, showing up what seemed like every weekend thereafter. Blizzards with names like Nemo and booster shots like Saturn & Co. The only good thing about late-winter snow, I think, is that the end is within reach. Crocus pushing through one day. Fourteen inches of snow the next. Enough already.

May 20, 2013

Watertown, MA. April, 2013

Evidently this jogger didn’t receive the “request” for citizens to remain indoors while armed soldiers, SWAT teams, state and local police, snipers et al. patrolled the sleepy streets of my town. From my window I watched as he was forced to the pavement, detained and questioned by dozens of law-enforcement officials for an hour before being allowed to walk the block back to his home. Of course, it couldn’t have helped that he was a young man with dark eyes and dark curly hair, just like the Boston Marathon bombing suspect the manhunt was seeking that tense afternoon a month ago.

May 19, 2013

Watertown, MA. April, 2013

Good morning! It’s not every day I look out into my backyard and see snipers. But then again, April 19, 2013 wasn’t every day. One month has passed since SWAT teams filled my neighborhood, looking for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. The psychic undertow (my friend Karen’s wonderful term) diminishes slowly.

May 18, 2013

Pinar del Río, Cuba. February, 2012

Because the only way we could go to Cuba was with a USA-approved tour group, my friend Patti and I wound up traveling with a mixed bag of characters. Some were heaven (like Lisa and Pam, Jeannie, Ginny and Alan), and some were, well, less so. When I asked our Cuban guide if we were a badly behaved group, she diplomatically replied, “Not really a group. More like a collection of individuals.” Right. Patti and I had nicknames for many of our fellow individuals. A particularly sourpuss couple became “The Vinaigrettes.” There was also “Miss Know-It-All,” “The Simpsons” and so on. Above, a good shot of “The Bad Pam.”

May 17, 2013

Pinar del Río, Cuba. February, 2012

Our first day in Cuba, we were bussed out to the model community within the tropical rainforest in the western part of the island. (Seems like this is on the list for all tour groups as we saw busses come and go all morning.) While we got our orientation and listened to a local group offer some great music, we were offered a rum-based cocktail (10am). I declined. But looking up, I saw this roof made of thatched palm fronds. Nothing is wasted in Cuba. Except maybe some of the tourists who didn’t decline that breakfast mojito.

May 16, 2013

Miramar, Habana, Cuba. February, 2012

Even though our charter flight’s takeoff from New York’s JFK was delayed several hours (the crew had forgotten to refill that blue liquid for the plane’s toilets, honest), our arrival was magical. The drive from Habana’s airport along unlit avenues with kids playing in the warm darkness was something out of a documentary. And when we checked into our (relatively) fancy hotel, I couldn’t help taking this photo from my balcony looking down at the nighttime pool. It was just as languid and luxe and enchanting as it looks. And I was so happy to finally be in Cuba.

May 15, 2013

Jaimanitas, Habana, Cuba. February, 2012

Patti (whose chosen Cuban name during our trip was Que Lastima) is delighted to find that her likeness has been immortalized in this ceramic-enhanced neighborhood we stopped in, not far from Casa Castro in a suburb of the Cuban capital. Was it Michelangelo who said, “Art imitates divine perfection”? Patti is much too modest to agree. After all, she is, as she’ll remind you, a Virgo.

May 14, 2013

Pinar del Río, Cuba. February, 2012

Smile! Before I went to Cuba, my friend Jane (who’d been there the previous Christmas) told me that for the first three days, I’d be amazed at all the American cars from the 1950s that I’d see. That I’d take photos of them all. And that after three days, I’d become so accustomed to seeing them that they would no longer be a novelty, no more photos. She was right. Not that I still didn’t love seeing them on Day 4, just that they’re everywhere in Cuba, certainly everywhere in Havana. One afternoon I stood on a street corner near Havana University and counted them: one in every four cars that passed was an American classic. And when I timed their appearances, I found that one passed by every 11 seconds. So.

May 13, 2013

Habana Vieja, Cuba. February, 2012

Cuba Week begins here on SLS. There’s music almost everywhere you turn in Old Havana. Policemen, too, though they’re usually muy casual about their watch, like this guy here. The streets of Havana were among the safest I’ve ever walked. Except for the pieces of decaying buildings that sometimes fall from the sky. Or at least that’s what my Cuban friends warned me about. Never saw any such cascades, but I sure did see many decaying buildings in this faded, glorious city, facades possessed of a charm all their own. 

May 12, 2013

Paris. December, 2005

On a wall in Montmartre. So French.

May 11, 2013

Paris. December, 2005

In the US of A, you can go into any cheese shop, any supermarket and find brie. Or what passes for brie. But if you’re in Paris, asking for this cheese will only render you vulnerable to a number of follow-up questions and a smattering of attitude. What kind of brie? How much butterfat cotent? From which region would you like it? How old? With enhancements? You get the idea. Even in this one photo from Fromagerie 31, you can see brie from the regions of Meaux and Mellun. Oh, and there’s one with ground pistachios as a filling. And there were many, many more.

May 10, 2013

Paris. December, 2005

I love the Paris metro. I remember taking it the first time in 1969 where there were sections for both first and second class. (Are there still?) And I remember the entrance doors to the station platforms that would close automatically as the train was approaching, preventing latecomers from running to catch it. Mostly, I think I like the names of the stations. Look at this one, a station where I was waiting to catch a connecting train. Where else would a station’s name be a combination of a manufacturer of fine china and a lost, decadent civilization? (Though my favorite metro station name is still in Milan: Gorgonzola.)

May 9, 2013

Paris. December, 2005

My friend Donna has just returned from a brief trip to visit her daughter (on a medical fellowship) in Paris. Her verdict: “A cesspool.” A bit harsh (and inaccurate), I think, n’est-ce pas? She said that only old people were dressed in style. That the metro was unsafe late at night. That men “looked” at them in lascivious ways. Yeah? So? I love Paris. And I don’t need much more than what you see here: a room of my own, tucked under the eaves, warm in the winter, the wrappings on the bed evidence of some recently enjoyed bread and cheese. Hôtel du Palais Bourbon, Nick’s regular choice, situated comfortably and conveniently in the 7eme arrondissement, was just right.

May 8, 2013

Paris. December, 2005

The next time you order scallops in a restaurant or go to buy them in the store, think of these beauties on sale in Paris’ Bastille market. The shells alone are worth the 16 euros for three kilos. Now look at the opened scallops over there on the right, complete with the orange roe. Zut alors, these Parisians know how to eat!

May 7, 2013

Paris. December, 2005

My first visit to the Pompidou Centre. It hadn’t existed during my last trips to Paris in 1969 and 1972. So I was doubly mesmerized by both the busyness of the structure’s tunnels and scaffolding, and by the tribute to Martin Scorsese. I remember showing this photo to my colleague Ed, a Scorsese fan. His very first reaction was, “Look at that pigeon!” I had no idea what he was talking about and I’d seen this photo dozens of times. Then I took a closer look. Can you see it?

May 6, 2013

Paris. December, 2005

This is Paris Week here on SLS. Allons. If you’re racing to catch your train to Orleans or Blois or Tours, better make sure you know which station to run to. Because the Gare d’Orsay, the main station to handle these journeys, was shut down ages ago, and ages after that turned into the beautiful Musée d’Orsay, which opened in 1986. So instead of a conductor asking for your ticket, you’ll have the plaisir of encountering Manet’s Olympia, Millet’s Gleaners and several of Cezanne’s Bathers. Even Whistler’s Mother, a trip in itself.

May 5, 2013

Watertown, MA. May, 2013

The big surprise of this year’s town-wide yard sale was how people glommed onto my old LPs that I’d offered at a dollar each. Even before the start of the sale, early birds had purchased over a hundred albums. Yikes! Here are a few I photographed to publicize the sale on Craig’s List. Online I called the category, “Female Vocalists.” Privately I called it “Teenage Homosexual Selection.”

May 4, 2013

Watertown, MA. May, 2013

Today is the annual town-wide yard sale event here in my quiet Watertown. Just what we need, actually, two weeks after SWAT teams, snipers and other manhunt teams were swarming our streets in search of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. Now all that’s mostly in the past (sort of), and we can concentrate on “dollar” items like that crystal decanter, upper right. But, sorry, the Alessi cruet tray (left) is NFS, just there because I needed a shiny moon shape to set off the Indian hand puppets ($5 for the pair) in this still life. No early birds, please. Right.

May 3, 2013

Giudecca, Venice. November, 2012

The island of Giudecca, a two-minute boat ride from the main part of the city, is so low-key and neighborhoody. No throngs of tourists. No guided crowds led by a flag-bearing leader. You can walk back alleys for hours and not see anyone except maybe a housewife on her way home with the makings of the evening meal, a boy kicking a soccer ball and talking to himself. One of the things I saw was this: a pair of old, much-repaired shutters, closed tight and emblazoned with a heart and the legend, “I think of you.” Who wrote this, I wonder, and about whom?

May 2, 2013

Berkeley, CA. November, 2005

Could you possibly get another flyer onto that campus kiosk here at the University of California at Berkeley? Probably not. But that’s not going to stop anyone. It’s Berkeley, fabled hotspot of activism, free-thinking and counterculture. So they’ve got a lot of information that needs to be spread.

May 1, 2013

Venice. October, 2012

For me, the larger, grander canals of Venice have nothing on the tiny, more secluded waterways back in the quieter residential neighborhoods of the beautiful city. Others, like these two guys, seem to agree. This is the first time I’ve seen kayaks here. It was a bit of a surprise and mighty fun to watch as the teacher (in the yellow craft) tried to help the student (in blue) avoid collisions and propel himself forward. It would have been even more fun to join them. Next time.