October 31, 2013

Venice, Italy. October, 2012

Happy Hallowe’en. Oh, the magical powers to be found in an herb store. Plus, the invocation of St. Rita, patroness of bakers. Reflections of water, of footbridges, of other reflections. This tiny shop, located just off a small, neighborhood canal, is one of hundreds devoted to residents, not tourists, of Venice.

October 30, 2013

Venice, Italy. October, 2012

Just in case you lose your way (entirely possible) in the narrow, twisty alleyways between the Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge, there’s this helpful mosaic among the paving stones to direct you to the best pastry shop in town.

October 29, 2013

Providence, RI. January, 2013

When I was working at Boston’s public broadcasting station, we were “treated” to a seminar about laughter as a stress relief. It was highly embarrassing, uncomfortable and I learned nothing new. The woman who led the discussion told us her name was Mare Streetperson. OK. Whatever. And since that day, I have always been on the lookout for others with names that they’d perhaps acquired somewhere along their life path. Like this one (by a quilter) from an exhibit of works by staff members at the Rhode Island School of Design.

October 28, 2013

Stoneham, MA. March, 2013

Winner and still champion. Mrs. A rules. And even though I was unable to sample the pasta con muddica (pasta with breadcrumbs, raw garlic, a little sugar and parsley), I reveled in my friend Paul’s mother’s frittatas (one with potato, one with asparagus), the bountiful antipasto, sausages, eggplant parm, grapes and oranges. Zeppole, the cream- or ricotta-filled traditional “donuts” served each St. Joseph’s Day (March 19), were also off-limits, but I took pleasure in watching others enjoy them even as they moaned they were so full they couldn’t eat one more bite. Sure.

October 27, 2013

Giudecca, Venice, Italy. October, 2012

When we asked our wonderful Ca’ Isabella B&B hostess Rosella where she eats when she goes to a restaurant, she gave us a number of recommendations. Our our first night, we dined here at Ai Cacciatori at an outdoor table on the waterfront. Of course, we wanted seafood. Jay got grilled baby squid. I had a plate of lightly batter-fried mixed seafood and vegetables. And, because it’s Venice, both were excellent and both came with a slice of polenta.

October 26, 2013

Giudecca, Venice, Italy. October, 2012

This is where we lived on our most recent trip to Venice. Along the waterfront on the quiet, friendly and mercifully uncrowded island of Giudecca, a two-minute boat ride from Venice proper. We took in all the sights and all the tourist-packed craziness during the day, then retreated to our calm isle at night. Much, much cheaper restaurants (frequented by locals, a good sign) and much more reasonable lodging rates, too. And look how homey and beautiful it is here outside our home at the Ca’ Isabella B&B.

October 25, 2013

Providence, RI. January, 2013

This mass of roots stopped us in our tracks, so tangled and impressive was its impact. Located on a well-walked route along the border of Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, what do you think the various students of those two schools make of this visual?

October 24, 2013

Venice, Italy. October, 2012

Let others search out the Holy Grail. I was hot on the track of the holy grail of Venetian cornmeal diamonds, aka zaleti. I didn’t need to look far, for these cookies were in every bakery and pastry shop we looked in. But the one we stopped in, the fabled Rosa Salva, had these excellent examples. Dotted with currants and much larger and and softer than the ones I make regularly at home (from my friend Nick’s recipe), they nonetheless provided a reward, not only in taste, but also in the triumphant conclusion of our search.

October 23, 2013

Watertown, MA. October, 2013

Last night, while preparing dinner, I looked out my kitchen window and it appeared as if the sky were on fire. Seen through the backyard trees, even more so. The unusual bright orange sunset silhouetted into black the leaves of the oak, the maple, the apple trees. No wonder black and orange are the traditional colors of this Hallowe’en time of year.

October 22, 2013

Watertown, MA. June, 2011

One of the things that I like about the town I live in is that the rents are still reasonable enough that, with roommates, struggling artists and students are able to live here. A good thing. One summer afternoon, I was walking along the main street in my part of town and came across a series of artists’ moments, each affixed to the poles of street signs or trees along the sidewalk. No explanation, just the artworks. Like this one.

October 21, 2013

Giudecca, Venice, Italy. October, 2012

When in Venice, eat like the Venetians do. Which means not like the tourists do. And which also means eat lots of excellent seafood and slices of polenta. Seen here: Jay’s first-night waterfront dinner at Ai Cacciatori, a family trattoria -- grilled baby squid...and polenta. Excellent.

October 20, 2013

Watertown, MA. November, 2012

The firestorm of autumn. One last chance for the trees to shout “Look at me!” before the winter winds blow their finery away. And it gets no finer than it does here in New England, even on an unheralded corner up the street from my house. Fire!

October 19, 2013

New York, NY. December, 2012

For years, “fruit and cheese” was kind of a joke for Jay and me when it came time for dessert. When cake and ice cream are offered, he says he doesn’t like sweets, then says he’ll have a “ladylike portion,” then comes back for seconds. Then (usually the next day) he says, “I much prefer fruit and cheese.” I don’t. But now that I’m avoiding flour and sugar, fruit and cheese is a lovely option if I want dessert. If the cheese is very good, as it was here at Il Buco Vini & Alimentari, it’s easy to skip the preserves and the honey, too.

October 18, 2013

Belmont, MA. October, 2013

(For those not familiar with the outsider art hype surrounding Banksy’s current NYC month-in-residence, click here.)

October 17, 2013

Gloucester, MA. July, 2011

A lesson from Jay’s late father, a cartoonist who knew whereof he spoke: “Don’t ever try to be clever. Because you’ll never be clever enough.” Amen.

October 16, 2013

Lincoln, MA. July, 2011

Whoops, not so fast. You almost walked right by this 2007 sculpture, Sisters, by artist Bob Boemig. The accompanying sign indicates that this “site-specific installation” is made from “steel, soil, myrtle.” A caution: “Please do not climb on this sculpture.” So noted.

October 15, 2013

Lincoln, MA. July, 2011

Up close at the huge Jim Dine heart sculptures at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park. I’m so used to seeing these from a distance, monumental as they are, that a closeup view reveals a whole new perspective, no?

October 14, 2013

Boston. July, 2011

The Frog Pond within the Boston Common. Skating rink in winter. Wading pool in summer. Common space enjoyed by many. Just as it was way back when, just as it should be now.

October 13, 2013

Boston. July, 2011

What is this? Dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee. Time’s up! If you guessed it’s one of the displays at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Dale Chihuly glass exhibit, you’re correct. Though most of the show was a raz-ma-tazz fantasy of curlicues and fine points, these purple tubes were set against rough logs of white birch and resulted in a contrast that was almost, well, alien. Can’t you imagine hearing The X-Files theme in the background?

October 12, 2013

New York, NY. July, 2011

Sigh. This used to be the Kiev Diner. Home to memorable breakfasts of scrambled eggs, kielbasa and lushy buttered challah toast. (Jay and I still often wax rhapsodic about the place and those meals.) Open late for the Lower East Side club crowd, early for the rest of us. I’ll never forget driving from Boston to NYC one morning and hearing on the radio that the Kiev had closed. Sadness. At least, at first, it was replaced by another eaterie, one very pale in comparison. But now...this. Sigh.

October 11, 2013

New York, NY. July, 2011

I love New York. Always have. I feel blessed at having grown up just a 40-minute bus or train ride away from Manhattan, and I was in the city all the time. So much so that I could (and can) take my sweet old time on each visit and, well, look. Appreciate the small details that make up the big picture. Little moments like this one on the pull-down door over some storefront in Nolita. What, I wonder, is behind it?

October 10, 2013

San Francisco. October, 1981

Black, silver, shine, a touch of red. How could I not take this photo of my friend George against this vintage ’59 Chevy when we saw it on our trip to Golden Gate Park?

October 9, 2013

Boston. 1983

I’m guessing at both the date and location for this photo. But, given the content, I think it’s got to be Boston. What is schrod anyway? I love fish, almost always order it in a restaurant (even since I was a kid) and now enjoy it just about every weekend with Jay in Gloucester. People have, over the years, told me schrod is a baby cod or a baby haddock, is a species all its own, is the name that restaurants and fishmongers give to whatever unidentifiable fish they happened to have on hand that day. Can any (or all) of these be true?

October 8, 2013

San Xavier del Bac, Tucson. January, 1990

I live in New England, where fading, peeling and decay look terrible, sure signs of negligence and sloth. So why, in the Southwest, do the same things look rustic and charming, adding to the ambience of the place? Here at the San Xavier Mission, for example, before its recent renovation, the wear and tear only seem to enhance the appeal.

October 7, 2013

Los Angeles. January, 1990

My friend Dali and I were in LA for the 10th anniversary of the PBS program Mystery! on which we both worked. However we did manage to find (a lot of) time to tour the city and to worship at its many shrines, such as this one. When I came across this photo today, I was reminded of Dali’s answer when I asked her one spring what she was planning to give up for Lent. “Some eye makeup.”

October 6, 2013

Hollywood. January, 1990

Early on a Sunday morning there were no crowds here around David Hockney’s pool at the Hotel Roosevelt. A bit chilly, too, if I recall. Still, that didn’t stop us from taking a few photographs, all of them a bit out of focus, much like some of the sleepyhead guests at the then-declining hotel. (It’s since had a makeover and has gone “boutique.”)

October 5, 2013

New Orleans. March, 1991

I was told not to go into New Orleans’ cemeteries alone. Fiddlesticks. I figured they meant at night, so off I went, camera in hand. And am I glad I did. The city’s volatile combination of Roman Catholicism, voodoo, French and Spanish ancestry and general Southern superstition has resulted in some pretty interesting displays. Among the more subtle: these Xs on so many of the above-ground tombs. I learned that followers of late voodoo priests and priestesses scratch three Xs on their tombs in hopes of having their wishes granted. I abstained. 

October 4, 2013

New Orleans. March, 1991

It was hot and humid. It was high noon. And outside the big CafĂ© du Monde (home of chicory coffee and beignets with massive amounts of powdered sugar), just across the street from Jackson Square, this. A DIY “world famous” contraption aimed at revenue generation. See the cash slot over there on the right. The entrepreneur’s intention was for someone to slide some scratch into the slot, then she would emerge and recite a nursery rhyme. I know it was a she because she did emerge once (not prompted by cash; I saw no one with any interest in this entertainment) but because it was so stifling inside and she needed some refreshment.

October 3, 2013

New Orleans. March, 1991

I always wind up at the market, no matter where I travel. Never a problem. Here in New Orleans’ French Market, tourists and locals mingle, some shopping, some (like me) just looking. Aside from the enjoyable visuals, my visits also inform me about what to look for on local menus. And, fortunately, there are plenty of cafes nearby to revive after an exhausting morning of looking. Coffee with chicory, sweet.

October 2, 2013

New Orleans. March, 1991

Do you suppose Tennessee Williams ever stayed here? Do you suppose he’d remember? While I love the name of the joint, I shudder to think what kind of accommodations were provided for $50.00 (weekly) at the Rebel Arms even in 1991. I’m itching just thinking about it.

October 1, 2013

Venice, CA. October, 1981

Muscle Beach. With its own gym right there on the sand, steps from the sea. A point of clarification: I am in my traditional “jumping picture” stance. I am not trying to emulate the young man doing some sort of pull-ups in the gym. Nor Evita. (My friend Artie neglected to get my airborne feet in the photo. Just saying.)